The World’s Youngest Failed State: Interrogating Western Interventions in South Sudan

The full recording of the lecture is available at

En route to conduct research in Juba, South Sudan, Dr Charles T Hunt, a Vice Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow in the Social & Global Studies Centre, along with Adam Day from the United Nations University’s Centre for Policy Research, gave a public lecture on the impact of the state-building interventions on South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation.


Abstract originally published by Dr Charles T Hunt on The World’s Youngest Failed State: Interrogating Western Interventions in South Sudan lecture was delivered at the Centre for Grand Strategy, King’s College London on 30 November 2018.


On 9 July 2011, South Sudan became the world’s youngest state, emerging from decades of civil war and a complex separation process from Sudan. Western powers overwhelmingly rejoiced at the newfound independence of South Sudan, with President Obama calling it a “new dawn” for the country. The United Nations too dramatically shifted its engagement in the two Sudans, shutting down the Khartoum-based mission that had overseen the peace agreement between North and South, and inaugurating a large, state-building mission in South Sudan which focused on helping the state to govern effectively and democratically.

Two years later, however, South Sudan had descended into all-out civil war, a conflict that has left the country devastated and cost nearly 400,000 lives. The UN mission on the ground has all but abandoned its state-building efforts and is now focused on the more immediate tasks of protecting civilians, monitoring human rights violations, and bringing the warring parties into a viable agreement.

What does South Sudan mean for Western visions of state failure and state-building? What lessons can be drawn from the UN’s experience in South Sudan from independence to today?

Dr Charles T. Hunt & Adam Day presenting at Centre for Grand Strategy, King's College London

Find out more about the research being conducted by Dr Charles T Hunt in the Conflict, Peacebuilding & Security program. His current project is International Policing and Civilian Protection in UN Peace Operations (DECRA) with previous projects including, Civilian Protection and the Use of Force in UN Peacekeeping Operations, and Understanding and working with local sources of peace, security and justice in West Africa.

Published by: