What is the House of Nationalities?



The concept of a House of Nationalities was developed by Sudanese intellectuals during two workshops held in 2000 and 2001, and this as the answer to the crucial questions on cultural diversity and political stability.

In January 2003, more than seventy leaders of the South Sudanese Civil Society 1 and representatives of various ethnic groups met for three days in Nairobi and came up in strong support of the project, agreeing that all communities should decide themselves on the implementation of a House of Nationalities during a national conference to be held inside the South Sudan.

In preparation of such a national meeting, a delegation composed of chiefs and members of the civil society visited Botswana and its ‘House of Chiefs’ in order to learn from the experiences made in a country praised for its fine record of good governance and economic growth. During the years of 2003 and 2004, the idea of creating a House of
Nationalities spread all over the South Sudan.

Arguing that the future belonged also to them, the Youth and Women united at the occasion of workshops held in Kenya, in Uganda and indeed in all the three regions of the South Sudan.

They raised their voice in support of the project which they consider to be important for peace among the ethnic
communities and for harmonious development.

Of great significance was the first Women conference on the House of Nationalities held in Lokichokio in November 2003 when the seventy participants agreed that a forum of traditional leaders would provide them with a most efficient platform for improving the status and rolef women in the South Sudan.

In June 2004, the SPLM invited over 300 kings, chiefs and spiritual leaders of the South Sudan to a historical conference. The Movement presented to them the results of the peace negotiations achieved so far and thanked them for their contribution in the liberation-war.

In the meeting’s final resolution, the chiefs formally demanded the recognition of the country’s cultural diversity, asked for a role in the peaceful resolution of conflicts among their communities, and a forum for regu-lar meetings of traditional leaders representing all the ethnic communities (Mazalla al-Kawmiya) in the South Sudan.


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