Executive Decisions: Regional Conflict Mediation by Kenya and South Sudan

Authors: Ibrahim Magara and Jan Pospisil

Mediation has become an increasingly popular tool of conflict transformation in East Africa and the Wider Horn. In this region, mediation is operationalised in peculiar ways, usually within executive leadership ranks, with a strong role taken by the presidencies. This report examines Kenya and South Sudan’s mediation experiences, profiles, and institutions at the national level. It investigates (i) the rationale, motives, and logics of mediation efforts of the two countries in the Wider Horn, and (ii) the applied processes (approaches, strategies, and tactics) and outcomes, to better understand the effects of executive-led mediation.

The comparison shows that Kenya has a stronger mediation profile and a stronger institutionalisation of conflict transformation in its governance structure than South Sudan. Kenya applies mediation experiences made in its own country to the international realm, while, at the same time, using mediation as a tool to achieve regional hegemony. South Sudan works in a less structured, more ad-hoc way focused on executive deal-making.