Paper: Chiefs’ courts, court reform and the capacity to cope with hunger in South Sudan.

Paper details

Paper authors Chirrilo Madut Anei
In panel on The politics of solidarity during famine
Paper presenter(s) will be presenting In-Person / Online


This paper examines the customary courts in South Sudan - their role in the delivery of much needed assistance to the most vulnerable during times of hunger and the impact of government reforms on chiefly authority to do this. Based on qualitative research in Warrap State (South Sudan) in 2021, we analyse the legal mandate and the everyday practice of the customary courts. We focus on their ability to support the most food insecure in times of near famine-level hunger and during armed conflict. We then discuss the implications of government reform on this capacity. The constitution now recognises customary law courts but the jurisdiction of customary courts is limited to customary matters and only criminal cases with a customary interface. It is noted that the customary judges do not only exercise judicial functions but also play important role in the fair and equitable distribution of resources in the society, which conforms to principles of humanitarian access. The paper examines how this remaking of chiefly authority on paper is impacting everyday practice, and how this could impact people’s abilities to survive extreme hunger.



Chirrilo Madut Anei