How National Dialogue Works

The diagram below shows how National Dialogue works. Most noteworthy are the consultation forums it begins with. These allow a broad range of South Sudanese to define South Sudan’s problems and their solutions. These consultations are the basis for peace conferences, including regional conferences that address tribal and ethnic conflicts. Consultations also set the agenda for a national conference and recruit its delegates.

How National Dialogue Works

As you can see, National Dialogue is a process that includes dialogue consultations, conference negotiations, and implementation.  Unlike a peace treaty, it allows the governed to negotiate and determine goals. In addition, with National Dialogue, we can redefine our national unity for ourselves. We can redefine what being South Sudanese means. On that basis, we can also create a new constitution that reflects the values of all of us.

Every citizen has the chance to join in the dialogue. Through grassroots forums, civil society organization meetings, and the National Dialogue online, citizens can create answers to South Sudan’s problems.

For this to take place, though, the process of National Dialogue must earn credibility by being transparent and inclusive. Furthermore, it should have reliable guarantees that its process and outcomes can be implemented. Specifically, Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Speech, and respect on all sides for cease-fire agreements are essential to the process.


Origins of South Sudan’s National Dialogue

President Kiir announced South Sudan National Dialogue on 14 December 2016. It was officially launched on 22 May 2017. However, it didn’t start in South Sudan. It is a theory which draws on global experiences in peace-building, reconciliation, and political change. In fact, many countries have used it to transition from war and undemocratic rule to peace and democracy.

Though begun and launched by the President of South Sudan, the National Dialogue is no longer a state process.  The government of South Sudan made it independent in June of 2017.

After that, in response to criticism from opposition groups and the international community, the committee expanded membership to include more women, youth, faith organizations, academia, and the media. The National Dialogue today is an imperfect but self-improving body. Because we South Sudanese own it, we improve it ourselves. It is a chance for all us to define and shape the future of our country.


How National Dialogue Works with the International Community and Opposition

Opposition groups have welcomed National Dialogue in principle but haven’t yet committed to participating. In fact, they have expressed concerns about the political context, venue, and how it will be carried out. However, external reactions have been more positive. For example, the IGAD countries of Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and Sudan voiced support for an inclusive National Dialogue process. In addition, development partners (notably Germany and Japan) also embrace the concept. The UN has a similar stance, though it insists on being able to get humanitarian aid to those many in our country who need it.

A widely shared concern by the international community is that conflict and lack of humanitarian aid will weaken the National Dialogue process. All parties have joined the National Dialogue leadership in calling for an end to fighting across the country. They have asked both the opposition forces and the government to refrain from attacking one another. The National Dialogue supports the High Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) that aims to revitalize ARCISS.


The Goals of National Dialogue

  1. End all forms of violence in the country
  2. Redefine and reestablish stronger national unity
  3. Strengthen social contract between the citizens and their state
  4. Address issues of diversity
  5. Agree on a mechanism for allocating and sharing resources
  6. Settle historical disputes and sources of conflict among communities
  7. Set a stage for an integrated and inclusive national development strategy and economic recovery
  8. Agree on steps and guarantees to ensure safe, free, fair and peaceful elections and post-transition in 2019
  9. Agree on a modality for a speedier and safe return of our internally displaced persons and refugees to their homes
  10. Further national healing, peace, and reconciliation


How National Dialogue Works By Committee

The National Dialogue members consist of a Leadership Team, a Steering Committee, and the Secretariat. The Steering Committee has 15 subcommittees:

  • 10 state Subcommittees, one for each of the former ten states
  • 2 Administrative Area Subcommittees, Pibor and Abyei
  • Refugees and international outreach Subcommittee
  • National capital (Juba) Subcommittee
  • Security Subcommittee

The subcommittees play a vital role. They conduct consultation forums, document results, and report them to the rest of the Steering Committee. The Leadership manages the 112 person membership, sets policy and strategy, and communicates with political and diplomatic leaders. The Secretariat vets the work of the Steering Committee and Leadership. It also communicates with the press and the public.

How National Dialogue Works
Swearing in members of National Dialogue, May 22 2017, Freedom Hall, Juba, South Sudan


The Most Important Part: The People of South Sudan

All citizens of South Sudan should know how National Dialogue works. Consequently, the proceedings and all information about the National Dialogue are made public. This website and related social media ensure that outcomes of all phases of the process are publicly accessible. Also, they ensure that people can share their perspective. As organizers of this process, we know how sick and tired people are of waiting for peace. We know this is a long process. But we believe it will work if the people of South Sudan give it a chance. Please keep your hope alive — join the dialogue.

For more information about how National Dialogue works, read the National Dialogue Handbook.

For specific questions about how National Dialogue works in South Sudan please write to