For new nations, gaining independence is just the beginning of uphill battle

June 14, 2011

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Nine years after East Timor's independence, rebels tried to assassinate the president. Above, rebel Alfredo Reinado's funeral.

South Sudan is poised to become a new nation on July 9, but the transition to independence will be rocky. To get a better sense of the long road ahead, the South Sudanese may want to draw lessons from East Timor and Kosovo, two states to emerge in the 21st century.

Like South Sudan, both had substantial international support, but lacked the financial backing to build infrastructure. All three states also emerged from entrenched ethnic and religious conflict.

David Phillips is a former State Department official who’s worked in Kosovo, East Timor and Darfur in Sudan. He’s currently the director of the Program on Peacebuilding and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights. He joins us to discuss the challenges of creating sustainable peace and lasting independence in Sudan.