When Peace Kills Politics

International Intervention and Unending Wars in the Sudans

Sharath Srinivasan

A withering analysis of the tragic susceptibility of interventionist peace deals to precipitate ongoing violence.

Bibliographic Details
When Peace Kills Politics Paperback
February 2021£25.00
Request Press Review Copy
Request Inspection Copy

Why have war and coercion dominated the political realm in the Sudans, a decade since South Sudan’s independence and fifteen years after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement? This book explains the tragic role of international peacemaking in reproducing violence and political authoritarianism in Sudan and South Sudan.

Sharath Srinivasan charts the destructive effects of Sudan’s landmark north-south peace process, from how it fuelled war in Darfur, the Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile to its contribution to Sudan’s failed political transformation and South Sudan’s rapid descent into civil war. Concluding with the conspicuous absence of ‘peace’ when non-violent revolutionary political change came to Sudan in 2019, he examines at close range why outsiders’ peace projects may displace civil politics and raise the political currency of violence.

This is an analysis of the perils of attempting to build a non-violent political realm through neat designs and tools of compulsion, where the end goal of peace becomes caught up in idealised constitutional texts, technocratic templates and deals on sharing spoils. When Peace Kills Politics shows that these methods, ultimately anti-political, will be resisted—often violently—by dissatisfied local actors.


Sharath Srinivasan is David and Elaine Potter Lecturer at the Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Cambridge, where is Co-Director of the Centre of Governance and Human Rights and a Fellow of King’s College. He is also a Fellow of the Rift Valley Institute.


‘When Peace Kills Politics is a detailed appraisal of the peace process in the Sudans, drawing attention to the inherent contradictions of peacemaking itself. The argument is clear, consistent, important and true, and should ensure it widespread attention.’ — Christopher Clapham, Professor Emeritus, Centre of African Studies, University of Cambridge

‘Srinivasan sheds merciless light on the inadequacies of international actors who attempted to end Sudan’s wars. Excluding civilians from the peace process left them dealing with warlords and political parties, who manipulated the conflicts for their own benefit and left communities in ruins.’ — Martin Plaut, Senior Research Fellow, School of Advanced Study, University of London

‘A corrective to conventional understandings of war and peace, this book shows that the failure of peace-making in the Sudans cannot be reduced to bad design, poor implementation or duplicitous actors. Srinivasan explains how peace efforts reinforced the logic of violence, undermining political solutions. A catalyst for rethinking peace-making and international intervention.’ — Matthew LeRiche, Assistant Professor of Global Studies, Ohio University, and co-author of South Sudan: From Revolution to Independence

‘Srinivasan proposes a novel approach to the question of why peacemaking efforts in Sudan have reproduced violence and authoritarianism. This is a masterful study of why the logic of international peacemaking may subvert the potential of a “non-violent civil politics.”’ — Khalid Medani, Associate Professor of Political Science and Islamic Studies, McGill University

‘By showing how a peace process can ignite violence and close off space for necessary political discussion, this fine book deepens our understanding not just of Sudan and South Sudan but of peace processes more generally.’ — David Keen, Professor of Conflict Studies, London School of Economics