South Sudan - 8741st Security Council Meeting

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04-Mar-2020 01:51:29
Security Council welcomes South Sudan’s new power-sharing agreement, as Special Representative briefs on recent events.

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Security Council members cautiously welcomed the new power-sharing agreement to end the conflict in South Sudan today, as they heard updates on recent developments from the senior United Nations official in that country and a national civil society representative.

The briefers described the challenges ahead, while emphasizing the importance of ensuring that women are well represented in the newly formed Transitional Government of National Unity and the wider political process, as well as the need for close international monitoring to ensure that the incoming administration adheres to the new political road map.

David Shearer, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), reported that President Salva Kiir, agreeing to compromise, abandoned the current state system to restore the original pre-2015 10 states while establishing 3 administrative areas. Riek Machar — leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) and its associated Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) — then agreed to join the Transitional Government, taking up the position of First Vice‑President, he said. To their credit, both President Kiir and Mr. Machar put their country’s interests over their own, he said, emphasizing: “We often speak of courage in war and battle, but peace also requires courage.”

On UNMISS, he noted that its mandate is up for renewal, but, in the meantime, it has increased its protective presence as a confidence-building measure in areas where returning refugees are located. In addition, the Mission has prioritized the deployment of its “blue helmets” to those areas and other hotspot locations. At the same time, the mobility of UNMISS peacekeepers has improved, while the United Nations Police and the Rule of Law unit will be expanding their activities, he reported. “Our actions can push South Sudan further towards sustainable peace; our inaction can help condemn it to failure,” he stressed.

Betty Sunday, coordinator of the non-governmental organization Women’s Monthly Forum on the Peace and Political Process in South Sudan, briefed Council members by video-teleconference from Juba, welcoming the growing influence of civil society, particularly women-led organizations. “South Sudanese women have fought hard for the peace agreement to come to life and hold,” she said, emphasizing their role in the peace process, as well as their advocacy for greater female representation in the country’s political life. She pointed out, however, that the Transitional Government has not met the 35 per cent quota for women’s representation in the Cabinet, and that no women are included in the list of prospective state governors.

Underlining the fact that women and girls paid the highest price of previous political failures in South Sudan, she went on to cite the ordeal suffered by the 125 survivors of the November 2018 mass rape at Bentiu. Women remain under serious threat today, she said, underscoring the need for the newly formed Government to use national resources in tackling girls’ education and child marriage. It should also focus on delivery of basic services, she said, highlighting that women and girls are at risk of sexual and gender-based violence while fetching water or food.

Following the briefings, delegates encouraged the Transitional Government to ensure that women fill 35 per cent of positions, while expressing deep concern over continuing violence, humanitarian conditions and the effects of internationally imposed sanctions.

The United Kingdom’s representative emphasized that “the 35 per cent quota should be the floor, not the ceiling” in order to allow truly meaningful participation by women in the country’s political life.

South Africa’s representative expressed concern over intercommunal violence and sub-clan clashes, urging the Transitional Government to address the violence while noting the dire overall humanitarian situation in the country.

The Dominican Republic’s representative noted that more than 7 million people require humanitarian assistance, while over half the population face food insecurity. The effects of climate change are exacerbating the humanitarian situation, he said, citing the effects of flooding, as well as the prevalence of locust swarms spreading across the subregion. He went on to note that South Sudan is a signatory to the Optional Protocol on the Participation of Children in Armed Conflict, yet a broad lack of accountability has hampered its progress in that area.

Estonia’s representative also highlighted the vulnerability of children in South Sudan, welcoming South Sudan’s signing of the Comprehensive Plan of Action to end and prevent all grave violations against children, while calling upon the signatories to implement the Plan in full. He went on to affirm Estonia’s support for imposing sanctions on perpetrators of human rights violations.

Germany’s representative reinforced that sentiment, cautioning against lifting sanctions while stressing that, in order for reconciliation efforts to succeed, there should be no impunity for perpetrators of crimes.

The Russian Federation’s representative, however, stressed that the efforts of regional actors — in the spirit of “African solutions for African problems” — rather than the imposition of sanctions led to the progress witnessed today. He urged the Council to conduct an assessment of its sanctions regime with a view to tailoring it to conditions on the ground.

South Sudan’s representative said that the Transitional Government of National Unity should not have to start its new mandate with such a dividend of coercive measures as its way forward. Tying it down with sanctions will slow its progress, he warned.

Also delivering statements were representatives of the United States, France, Belgium, Viet Nam, Indonesia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia, Niger and China.

The meeting began at 10:01 a.m. and ended at 11:52 a.m.

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