Demarcation of North-South border responsibility of South Sudan

By Jacob K. Lupai


April 20, 2012 (SSNA) — Sudan had been at war with itself twice between 1955 and 2005 with only ten years interlude of peace. It fought its first war between 1955 and 1972. The first war only ended when a peace agreement between the North and the South was concluded in 1972. The peace agreement granted the South local autonomy and a regional government was established. The local autonomy enabled the South to have powers of self-government. However, the South was administered as an integral part of united Sudan with the regional government answerable to the central government. It is not within the scope of this article to cover the second war which was between 1983 and 2005. Nevertheless of greatest interest in relation to the demarcation of the North-South border is the peace agreement of 1972 which defines southern provinces of Sudan to mean the three provinces of Bahr el Ghazal, Equatoria and Upper Nile in accordance with their boundaries as they stood on January 1st, 1956. According to the peace agreement the three southern provinces constituted the Southern Region which is now the Republic of South Sudan. The emphasis here is on the North-South border as it stood on January 1st, 1956. The dispute between South Sudan and Sudan should not have happened. This is because South Sudan and Sudan should have known where the border was. However, because of its hidden agenda Sudan is playing ignorant of where the border was. It is a game to buy time with the intention of exploiting whatever resources are available within reach in South Sudan. It is therefore the responsibility of South Sudan to identify where the North-South border was in order to put an irrevocable stop to the exploitation of resources from South Sudan with impunity by failures and liars who disrespect agreements.  

Oil discovery in South Sudan

It is well established that almost all of the old Sudan’s known oil deposits were located in Upper Nile and Jonglei provinces in Southern Sudan but discovered only after the peace agreement of 1972. However, the then Southern Regional Government was not consulted on the granting of concessions to oil companies for prospecting and drilling for oil within Southern Sudan. This speaks volumes of the type of people the Republic of South Sudan is now dealing with. The discovery of oil in Southern Sudan turned the North against the South. So the recent declaration by the Sudan’s parliament that the government of South Sudan is now an enemy is not a surprise at all. This may also explain how and why the North had the refinery for Bentiu crude oil built in Kosti in the North instead of in the South. The North simply did not trust the South which the North anyway might have already perceived as an enemy.

Many people may not know that the issue of oil turned the North against the peace agreement of 1972. This was because the peace agreement provided for the Southern Regional Government to levy a corporation tax on any non-government owned factory in the South as well as to tax the profits from the South. This would have provided the Southern Regional Government with considerable revenues from any refinery located in the South and on the export of any refined or unrefined petroleum products. The revenues could have enabled the Southern Regional Government to embark on the needed development projects to improve the living standards of people in the South comparable to those in the North. Nevertheless the North was just so adamant that the refinery was located in Kosti for all the revenues accruing to concentrate development in the North but with oil revenues from the South. This may also explain how Sudan can easily brand South Sudan an enemy when the issue of oil is touched. The recent declaration y Sudan of South Sudan as an enemy is therefore not unique. Sudan is simply more than jealous of the oil in South Sudan and will use any means to have a share. The challenge is how to deter naked aggression by Sudan.

Separation of Southern Sudan

The separation of Southern Sudan has greatly deprived the North of its lucrative share of oil from the South. For the North to continue exploiting oil fields in the South, it has adopted a strategy of occupation of South’s border areas where most oil fields are located. This may confirm that the Republic of Sudan will never ever agree on any demarcation of North-South border that will deprive it of oil from the Republic of South Sudan. This is simply because the Republic of Sudan is fully aware that the border will show the contested oil fields are in fact in the Republic of South Sudan. Sudan has let go Southern Sudan as an independent country. The question is will Sudan also let go the oil fields by being a party to the demarcation of North-South border? The answer is of course a big no. Sudan may risk an all out war rather than agree on the demarcation of North-South border which is tantamount to the surrender of all oil fields to South Sudan. Against this background what is next for South Sudan. Well, South Sudan has a choice either to sit back and watch Sudan exploits its oil with impunity or South Sudan to adhere to its border as on January 1st, 1956 confirmed by the peace agreement of 1972. The North-South border as on January 1st, 1956 is legitimate that should settle any unwarranted claim by either side of occupation of each other’s territory. Furthermore the issue of North-South border as on January 1st, 1956 can be settled by reviewing and examining the maps of South Sudan.

South Sudan’s maps

Reviewing and examining the maps of South Sudan as of January 1st, 1956 may provide a clear picture of where the contested border areas are either located inside or outside South Sudan. After having critically reviewed and examined the maps it should have been shown clearly what action South Sudan should take. This means that South Sudan should determine the North-South border on the ground according to what the maps confirm. South Sudan should physically fix the border on the ground exactly as confirmed by the map of South Sudan as of January 1st, 1956. The implication is that South Sudan has to stand its ground at whatever cost. The national parliament and state parliaments must also support the North-South border as on January 1st, 1956 according to the available maps. It is likely that the response of Sudan will be hostile and militaristic because Sudan is the only country in the world that does not respect the territorial integrity of South Sudan.

The main challenge is how to make the international community aware of where the North-South border was located as on January 1st, 1956. The Ministry of Information is doing a very good job in disseminating information to the public where it also filters to international media. In contrast the Ministry of Foreign Affairs seems to be miserably unhelpful. One would have expected the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get involved in intensive and extensive diplomatic offensive to counter effectively the baseless allegations that South Sudan is occupying Sudan’s territory. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should have summoned if not already summoned the entire diplomatic corps resident in Juba for a briefing on the situation on North-South border. The Ministry of Information would then use giant screens to display maps of South Sudan as on January 1st, 1956 for the diplomatic corps to be aware of the location of contested oil fields. In this way the world may come to know the false allegations against South Sudan that it is occupying parts of Sudan. South Sudan diplomatic missions abroad should have also intensified awareness campaign to inform the various countries of the facts on the ground in South Sudan in relation to Sudan’s propaganda portraying South Sudan as the aggressor.

Sudan’s attempts to regain oil share

In desperation for oil from South Sudan, Sudan has opted for a military solution. Sudan’s misguided belief in its military superiority over South Sudan has pushed it to reckless and dangerous behavior. Nonetheless militarily Sudan is unlikely to win a war against South Sudan. The Sudan armed forces are in disarray given the rapidity of the capture of Heglig by the South Sudan army. The Sudan army was previously strong because the core components were the marginalized of Sudan. Now that the marginalized are themselves up in arms against Sudan, there is no chance for Sudan to win any war against South Sudan. What is left of Sudan is its air force. However, no territory can be captured from the air without ground forces. Another disadvantage is that Sudan is fighting an unjust war against South Sudan that its army may be confused while South Sudan army will fight with determination as it is defending the territory of South Sudan.  Yet another blow is that Sudan is now being asked to stop aerial bombardment of areas in South Sudan. The greatest blow is that Sudan air force bomb hit the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) camp deep inside South Sudan. The United Nations may now think twice instead of laying the blame for the conflict in the border areas squarely on South Sudan. Sudan’s attempts to regain its lost hare of oil are now like Sudan is chasing a shadow. Sudan should understand that aggression is unlikely to pay without a high cost that Sudan at the end may disintegrate completely.

South Sudan’s stand on Sudan’s aggression

The United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU) were partial in their blame of South Sudan for the aggressive behavior of Sudan. Probably the UN and the AU were deep in sleeping that when all of a sudden they woke up and in their biased perceptions issued emotionally charged statements condemning South Sudan for Sudan’s naked aggression. It is said it takes two to quarrel. Without giving themselves ample time to examine critically the conflict in the North-South border areas, the UN and the AU jumped headlong into condemnation that South Sudan was the aggressor and so wrong while Sudan was right in aggressing South Sudan. It is here that South Sudan should avail the UN and the AU with all the necessary maps of South Sudan as on January 1st, 1956. South Sudan’s stand on Sudan’s aggression should be that of standing by facts as revealed by authentic maps of South Sudan. People may not know that most of oil fields are in South Sudan. The unity oil fields outside Bentiu town are only near the border of Southern Kordofan and fields of oil in the Maban area of northern Upper Nile are also near the border of Blue Nile. The claim that the oil fields are in Sudan is false. It is hoped that the substantial oil deposit across the South Sudan-Ethiopian border between Nasir and Gambella is not again claimed by Sudan.


Arguably the demarcation of North-South border is squarely the responsibility of South Sudan. How possible is that will be answered with the help of authentic maps of South Sudan as on January 1st, 1956. Oil should not be the primary concern of South Sudan but where the North-South border is should be the main concern. Sudan will not demarcate or be a party to the demarcation of the border for reasons already stated. It is South Sudan that can demarcate the border by pushing relentlessly until the North-South border based on the maps of January 1st, 1956.

In conclusion, South Sudan will be wasting valuable time waiting for Sudan to agree on the demarcation of North-South border. We take what is ours and leave what belongs to Sudan. However, when Sudan wants to use its army to grab whatever does not belong to them so be it. We cannot wait any longer for the Holy Ghost to come. We will welcome the Holy Ghost in a thanksgiving prayer when we have first secured our legitimate border with Sudan.

The author can be reached at [email protected]

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