Sudan and South Sudan - 8801st Meeting, Security Council

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21-Jun-2021 01:39:49
Marking a decade of independence, South Sudan faces slow progress, lingering violence, Secretary-General’s Special Representative tells Security Council.

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Permanent Representative Stresses Need for State-Building Assistance, Citing Attacks in Areas Not under Juba’s Control

Despite progress made towards accountability and political stability, the senior United Nations official in South Sudan told the Security Council today that significant security and humanitarian challenges remain, as members diverged on the utility of sanctions still imposed on the world’s youngest country.

Nicholas Haysom, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for South Sudan and Head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), briefed the Council on the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in that country (document S/2021/566) for the first time since taking up the role in April. Noting that South Sudan will mark the tenth anniversary of its independence on 9 July, he detailed the progress the country has made in recent weeks towards implementing the 2018 Revitalized Peace Agreement. Namely, a task force was established to coordinate transitional justice, the national legislature was reconstituted and a permanent Constitution‑drafting process was officially launched in the capital, Juba.

Despite those strides, however, he reported that “the overall implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement is progressing slowly”. The formation of the legislature remains incomplete and transitional security arrangements remain behind schedule as troops in cantonment and training sites face inadequate shelter, health care and food. Further, weak or absent State governance has allowed spoilers to exploit “perennial communal and ethnic cleavages”, while entrenched insecurity contributes to a vicious cycle of livestock raiding and subsequent food insecurity. A weakened rule of law and flagging economic conditions have resulted in increased criminality and the targeting of humanitarian workers.

Against that backdrop, he said UNMISS is taking the lead in facilitating the delivery of life-saving services. Recalling his recent meetings with senior Government officials in Juba, he said local authorities want more assistance in tackling subnational conflicts and the negative impact of the widespread presence of firearms. To that end, UNMISS will continue to provide physical protection as required and will establish a task force to address climate-related security concerns. He stressed, however, that the Mission will require concerted support from the United Nations and regional partners, including the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

Rajab Mohandis, Executive Director and co-founder of the Organization for Responsive Governance, also briefing the Council, recalled that South Sudan, at the time of its independence, had the resources and institutions necessary to govern itself. That potential was squandered, however, due to ineffective political leadership and neglect of the principles that guided the struggle for liberation. “[Leadership] has been grossly lacking in South Sudan since the country became independent,” he stated, adding: “As it stands now, there is no clarity as to where the country is heading.”

The State has failed to perform basic functions, he said, including maintaining security, enforcing law and order, delivering necessary services to the population and resolving multiple conflicts. Urging the country to learn from the last 10 years, he stressed that South Sudanese who genuinely represent the suffering masses must be at the core of all future solutions. The Council, he added, must coordinate with IGAD, the African Union and other actors in the international community to “raise the cost of wilful sabotage” of the Revitalized Peace Agreement.

In the ensuing discussion, Council members commended UNMISS efforts to protect civilians and support peacebuilding in South Sudan and echoed briefers’ calls for coordination among the Council, African Union and IGAD to enhance implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement. Many also expressed concern that full realization of that Agreement has been delayed, despite some progress made. Others, instead, insisted that recent achievements be recognized, and urged the Council to re-examine its sanctions architecture in light of those positive developments.

In that vein, the representative of Viet Nam spotlighted the functioning of central and local government, a largely holding permanent ceasefire and recent reconstitution of the transitional legislature as successes that should lead the Council to encourage — rather than pressure — the South Sudanese parties. The international community must increase humanitarian assistance and financial support to South Sudan, with sanctions only used as a temporary measure to facilitate conditions conducive to peace, he stressed.

Similarly, China’s representative called on the Council to lift sanctions against South Sudan to send a positive message, noting that the Transitional Government has overcome numerous difficulties to lay the foundation for lasting peace. Implementing the 2018 Peace Agreement cannot be achieved overnight, he stressed, urging the international community to meet South Sudan’s humanitarian needs and help eliminate the root causes of intercommunal conflict.

The representative of the United States, however, described claims that the United Nations arms embargo prevents the Transitional Government from making progress towards stability as disingenuous, pointing out that exemption procedures exist within the sanctions regime for materiel needed to implement the Revitalized Peace Agreement. He called on national authorities to cease obstruction of UNMISS’ ceasefire monitoring and view the Mission as “a full partner in the process of transition”.

The representative of Kenya, speaking for the group of countries known informally as the “A3+1” (Kenya, Niger, Tunisia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), urged the Council to reflect on whether UNMISS is achieving its mandate. Consolidating peace through State- and institution-building must remain a top priority, he stressed, and the Mission must focus on supporting the peace process, including through technical and logistical support for implementing the 2018 Peace Agreement.

Also addressing the Council, South Sudan’s representative underscored the necessity of State-building assistance, pointing out that recent attacks on humanitarian workers and peacekeepers occurred in territory not under Government control. He urged the international community to assist his country in rebuilding its capacity, stressing: “Keep your money, but bring your expertise.”

Also speaking were representatives of India, United Kingdom, Norway, Russian Federation, Ireland, Mexico, France and Estonia.

The meeting began at 10:01 a.m. and ended at 11:41 a.m.

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