South Sudan becomes the world’s newest nation and signals intent to join Commonwealth

Panel at South Sudan: The Birth Pains of a New Nation

On 9 July 2011 South Sudan became the world’s newest nation as congratulations and statements recognising South Sudan’s nationhood flooded in from across the globe.

Up until this date South Sudan was a sub-nation of Sudan, but at a referendum held on 30 January earlier this year an overwhelming 98.5% of people voted for an independent South Sudan.

On the eve of South Sudan’s independence the Royal Commonwealth Society hosted an event: South Sudan: The Birth Pains of a New Nation.  

As stated by RCS Associate Director, Patrick Wintour, the event was intended as a positive response to South Sudanese Vice President, Riek Machar’s speech to the RCS International Branch Meeting in May 2011, where he stated:

 “Membership of the Commonwealth would assist us greatly in meeting all our goals and I hope that one day soon we will be welcomed into this family of nations.”

Panel member, Chuks Ihekaibeya, Independent Consultant on South Sudan and former senior official at the Commonwealth Secretariat recognised that the Commonwealth too could benefit from the relationship:

“For the Commonewalth, opening their doors to South Sudan provides an opportunity to renew itself.  It is an opportunity for it to be visible, but more than that the opportunity of reminding itself what it stands for.  The Commonwealth is known for being a transformative agent.  Here the Commonwealth will join in the process of shifting South Sudan from the manacles of the past to a greater future.”

If South Sudan does join the Commonwealth it would become the 55th Commonwealth state.

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