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Non-state security providers and political formation in South Sudan: the case of Western Equatoria's Arrow Boys

Research report

Written by Mareike Schomerus

Research report

The Arrow Boys, a militia in South Sudan’s south-western region, were established as a civilian protection mechanism. They are active in an area that has in recent years seen a resurgence of support for reinstating a particular position of traditional leadership, the Zande King.

The Arrow Boys and the Zande King could be regarded as a nonstate answer to the official government. However, this paper argues that the dividing line in how citizens relate to the Arrow Boys and the Zande King does not correspond to the state and non-state dichotomy. Using empirical quantitative and qualitative data, the paper shows that support for an actor is divided along models of governance - military and civilian - that actors represent.

The paper concludes with implications of this finding for the understanding of state formation processes and security sector reform (SSR), suggesting that SSR requires a focus on the civilian modes of governance first.

Mareike Schomerus