Sudan & South Sudan

ISP’s work with leaders and potential leaders from Sudan and South Sudan began after a conversation with a beloved and intrepid activist, Esther Sprague, in the Spring of 2007.  ISP’s CEO met Esther at the Western Regional Conference of STAND held at Berkeley where he served as a breakout session speaker analyzing the reasons for the rapid breakdown of peace agreement reached just months before in Darfur. A couple of weeks after that conversation, Esther called Randy to ask if he could offer a transformational leadership workshop for the Sudanese like the one he had been co-leading in the Balkans since 2002.  The first workshop to which Sudanese were invited was held less than three months later.


Transformational Leadership Workshops

From 2007 through 2013, the ISP team designed and facilitated Transformational Leadership Workshops for over 300 activists and leaders in the Sudanese/South Sudanese Diaspora and from Sudan, Darfur, and South Sudan.   From 2007-2011, the workshops were conducted at the YMCA Of The Rockies in Estes Park, CO and Snow Mountain Ranch, near Winter Park, CO. 

Participants in the workshops included leaders of the SPLM, Sudan Revolutionary Front, human rights activists, the vice-chairman of the Democratic Unionist Party of Sudan, the Secretary General of the UMMA Party of Reform & Renewal of Sudan (and former Sudanese Minister of Tourism & Cultural Antiquities), the Editor-in-Chief of the largest independent newspaper in Sudan, members of the Secretariat of the SPLM in America, a member of the South Sudan parliament, the chairman of the Youth League of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, and the first Ambassador to the United Nations from South Sudan.  In 2012 & 2013, ISP conducted regional Transformational Leadership Workshops in NYC, San Diego CA, Washington DC, Houston, TX attended by over 200 leaders, activists, and members of the Sudanese/South Sudanese Diaspora.

The Conflict in South Sudan - Healing & Reconciliation Workshops

On December 15, 2013, a violent conflict erupted in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, and generated a civil war that continues today.  Within days of its beginning, South Sudan Women United (SSWU) was formed by a group of women from multiple tribes in South Sudan, including the first Ambassador to the United Nations from South Sudan, Agnes Oswaha, and Nyakan Gille, a staff member in the embassy of South Sudan to the USA.

Leaders of SSWU asked Butler to design and facilitate its first Healing & Reconciliation Workshopwhich was conducted on Feb. 7 – 9, 2014.  In a communiqué to the mediators of South Sudan peace talks, the thirty women in the workshop wrote this about the workshop: “SSWU members recently participated in a reconciliation and healing workshop… The workshop provided the necessary platform for women from different tribes to envision a peaceful and prosperous South Sudan; to express their anger, grief, pain and frustration about the violence that has engulfed the country; to confess their role and the role of their tribe in committing violence either directly or indirectly; and to ask for forgiveness. The experience was remarkable and we urge the Mediators to provide this same experience, through the Institute for Sustainable Peace, to the negotiating parties.”

To support the peace process, Global Partnership for Peace in South Sudan (GaPPSS) convened its 2nd annual 3-day global conference on July 31, 2015 in Boston.   The organizers asked Randall Butler and The Institute for Sustainable Peace to design the program.  The following is from the official report of the conference:

“The program was designed as a training and collaboration workshop to bring together diverse South Sudanese leaders and friends under the theme, ‘Uniting the Diaspora for Peace in South Sudan: Building Trust and Doing Good.’ The workshop aimed at offering a space to build unity within a diverse community and strengthening cross-cultural communications, developing alternative means to addressing political and social grievances rather than resorting to violence, promoting a culture of co-existence, developing strategies for functioning more effectively in efforts of healing and reconciliation, and developing action plans to address issues pertinent to the current crisis in South Sudan that groups can take and work on together…

Forty-two South Sudanese women, men and youth from Arizona, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ottawa, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Winnipeg, and Washington, DC participated in the workshop. Friends of South Sudan attending the workshop came from the United States Institute for Peace, Sudan Sunrise, The Enough Project, Sudan Unlimited, Sudan Advocacy Action Forum, Regent University, South Sudan Women United and media presence by Voice of America. The workshop was supported by Humanity United and other donors as well as registration fees. The workshop program was developed primarily by Randy Butler of The Institute for Sustainable Peace.

The workshop brought together South Sudanese from diverse backgrounds – people from different locations, tribes, political persuasions, age groups, educational experiences and roles within the Diaspora and back home in South Sudan; however they shared a common vision of seeing peace in South Sudan. Over the weekend, participants committed themselves to the hard work of dialogue for the purpose of building unity that is necessary for sustainable peace. They emerged, at the end of the workshop, with stronger relationships, concrete action plans and a renewed sense of hope and faith in the ability of South Sudanese, with God’s help, to achieve lasting peace.”

In June 2016, Luol Deng, the NBA Los Angeles Lakers basketball star from South Sudan, sponsored the South Sudan Unite Youth Leadership Conference, in Omaha, Nebraska, for members of the South Sudanese diaspora.  Butler was asked, once again to design the program.  This led to his creating the Reflective Action Kit for Healing & Reconciliation, a downloadable guide for facilitate the Healing & Reconciliation Workshop for South Sudanese.  Butler also created a video introduction, produced at eTown Hall in Boulder that is available on YouTube here.

Butler designed & facilitated United in Diversity for Peace –Using Non-violent Means To End The Conflict In South Sudan,  the third annual conference of the Coalition of Advocates for South Sudan, held September 30- October 1, 2017 at Drake University, Des Moines, IA.  In their subsequent review of the conference, the leadership stated:

“The primary objectives were clearly met.  These were to:

  • Bring leaders from many ethnic groups around North America together and have them get to know leaders from other ethnic groups.
  • Empower those leaders to be able to go back to their home areas and provide experiential training to bring people together for peace for all the people of South Sudan.”

“The Conference clearly was a success.  Approximately 60 people were in attendance, fewer than expected, while a very large number, believed to be over 6,000 watched segments of the conference on Facebook Live.  Feedback has been positive.”

Since the CASS Annual Conference, Butler has been in regular conversation with leaders of CASS discussing potential strategies for a larger conference to advance peacebuilding in South Sudan.