8689th Security Council Meeting: Sudan and South Sudan

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17-Dec-2019 01:31:03
Top United Nations official in South Sudan urges leaders to form transitional government, unify national forces, as delegates applaud respect for ceasefire at 8689th meeting.

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Sanctions Committee Chair Cites Serious Gaps in Implementing Arms Embargo, Urges Neighbours to Cooperate with Expert Panel

Essential tasks in forming a transitional Government to end the tragic conflict in South Sudan must be accomplished with urgency if the parties are to meet their latest extended 100-day timeline, the top United Nations official for the country told the Security Council today.

“Reasons can always be found for further delay”, said David Shearer, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS). “But if the parties want to fully implement the agreement and form a new Government, they can. It comes down to political will.”

Mr. Shearer introduced the Secretary-General’s latest report on the issue (document S/2019/936), which describes the events leading up to the agreement to extend the pre-transitional period by 100 days effective from 12 November, the previous deadline. The Secretary-General expresses disappointment at delays in implementing the agreement between the Government, led by President Salva Kiir, and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO), led by Riek Machar.

The report notes, however, that the extension agreement calmed rising tensions and that the ceasefire continues to hold, except in parts of the greater Equatoria region. As the humanitarian situation remains dire, the Secretary-General urged the parties to “move forward with the interest of the people at the forefront”.

In his briefing, Mr. Shearer noted that one third of the extension has already passed. The first test of whether political will exists to form the unified Government will be known when the 50-day review is held. At that point, there must be measurable progress in training and unifying national forces, transparency in Government funding for such pre-transitional tasks, a resolution of Mr. Machar’s status and determination of state boundaries.

The good news, he said, is that the ceasefire has been largely respected, although a recent spike of intercommunal clashes risks spilling into more serious violence. Civilians continue to bear the brunt of any fighting. To their credit, state government, humanitarian agencies and donors responded quickly to the flooding that affected at least 900,000 people.

Given the rise in tensions caused by political delays and flooding, he urged South Sudan’s leaders to make the right choices and swiftly implement the peace agreement. “The wrong choices could create the circumstances for a perfect storm”, he warned.

Also briefing today, Joanna Wronecka (Poland) spoke in her capacity as Chair of the South Sudan sanctions committee, describing her visit to South Sudan and the region in October, in which she witnessed the terrors of the conflict and serious gaps in implementation of sanctions. Shipments are not being inspected to maintain the arms embargo, and sanctioned individuals are still travelling unimpeded throughout the region. She urged Governments in the region, particularly those neighbouring South Sudan, to strengthen their cooperation with the Committee and its Panel of Experts.

In the ensuing discussion, delegates urged the parties to make progress in implementing the revitalized peace agreement during the 100-day extension period, in coordination with regional facilitators. Many also urged measures to relieve the humanitarian and human rights situation in the interim, including the establishment of mechanisms for transitional justice.

The representative of the United States, Council President speaking in her national capacity, said many in the international community are losing confidence that South Sudan’s leaders can guide it to peace. If they cannot not make progress in the next 100 days, a stronger sanctions regime should be considered.

The representative of the Russian Federation, on the other hand, suggested that, though disappointing, the failure to meet the previous deadline should not be dramatized. The ceasefire is holding, violence has fallen and leaders have been consistently talking to each other. In that context, regional facilitators should be supported to keep the momentum going and sanctions should be soon reconsidered.

South Africa’s representative, speaking also for Côte d’Ivoire and Equatorial Guinea, called the revitalized peace agreement a “beacon of hope” that will help rebuild South Sudan and bring about peace and stability. Extending the pre-transitional period by 100 days will make it possible to address contentious issues, including security arrangements and boundary issues.

He encouraged the parties to continue dialogue, using the frameworks of the African Union and IGAD to bridge their differences. The international community should meanwhile continue to support the parties at this critical juncture. “The people of South Sudan deeply yearn for peace, stability and development to rebuild their lives,” he stated.

Also speaking today were representatives of Germany, France, Dominican Republic, Poland, Belgium, Kuwait, Indonesia, China, United Kingdom and Peru.

The meeting began at 3:08 p.m. and ended at 4:40 p.m.

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