8621st Security Council Meeting: Reports of Secretary-General on Sudan and South Sudan

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18-Sep-2019 01:33:05
South Sudan peace process ‘precarious’ but advancing after leaders recommit to transitional government, top official tells Security Council at 8621st meeting.

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While the situation for many people in South Sudan remains bleak, a year of relative peace has kick-started a process of transformation that is improving lives, with one-time enemies coming together to chart the way forward for the world’s youngest nation, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in that country told the Security Council today.

Last week’s meeting in Juba between President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO), was an important development, said David Shearer, who is also Head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), as he presented the Secretary-General’s latest reports on the country.

During their talks — held one year after warring parties signed the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan — President Kiir and Mr. Machar recommitted to forming a Transitional Government by 12 November. “The peace process remains precarious, but progress is being made,” he said, emphasizing that progress depends on sustained goodwill between the parties and a collective, unrelenting focus by international partners, including the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union.

UNMISS, meanwhile, is rebalancing the deployment of its “Blue Helmets” and moving away from static protection at protection-of-civilian sites in favour of confidence-building patrols, he said. However, the Government must take the lead in creating safe and supported communities, he said, adding that a South Sudan that is truly at peace will no longer require United Nations protection sites.

Indeed, the formation of a Transitional Government will be an opportunity to look ahead to free and fair elections, he said, as well as the expansion of political space. Currently, there is mounting resentment among South Sudanese, who are among the world’s poorest people, towards wealth-amassing members of the elite. Criminality remains a serious problem and he reviewed the Mission’s effort to help rebuild South Sudan’s judicial system, including the deployment of mobile courts to more remote areas.

In the ensuing discussion, Council members looked forward to their visit to Juba in October and welcomed last week’s talks between President Kiir and Mr. Machar as an opportunity to break the political impasse. They also hailed the fact that a nationwide ceasefire is largely holding. However, they expressed concern at the ongoing humanitarian situation and warned of the danger of the Ebola virus crossing over the border from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“The road ahead has been charted,” said South Africa’s representative, drawing attention to myriad grass-roots initiatives and urging South Sudan’s leaders to do more to converge with the people. He expressed concern over violent incidents among opposition groups and intercommunal tensions. Describing the magnitude of the humanitarian crisis as “an affront to us as humanity”, he urged international stakeholders to contribute to post-conflict reconstruction.

Last week’s developments gave new impetus to the reconciliation process, said the Russian Federation’s delegate, and the decision to extend the transitional period to 12 November, while difficult, was justified. He added that progress was assisted by regional actors, not the arms embargo, and that his delegation anticipates a review of the sanctions.

Offering a different view, the representative of the United States said the peace process has focused too much on political elites and too little on people’s suffering. But there is still time for the parties to advance peace before the November deadline. “The people of South Sudan have stressed that durable peace is possible if women play a full and meaningful role in public life,” she added.

On that point, South Sudan’s delegate said the Constitution designates 35 per cent of all private and public sector positions for women. “This is more than a lot of you in this room can say,” he assured.

Describing the meeting between President Kiir and Mr. Machar as an important step, he said the two leaders held discussions on how to best implement the Revitalized Agreement. “The most important outcome of the two-day discussion is that both sides agreed to form a Transitional Government by 12 November,” he said. He also drew attention to last week’s visit to Juba by the new Prime Minister of Sudan, who discussed with President Kiir a range of issues that will ensure peace and prosperity in and between their countries.

Also speaking were representatives of France, Peru, Côte d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Poland, Germany, Belgium, China, Kuwait, Equatorial Guinea and the United Kingdom.

The meeting began at 10:04 a.m. and 11:37 a.m.

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