|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6660th Meeting (PM)
Amid ‘Huge Expectations’ for Transition to Democracy, South Sudan will Need All
Support It Can Get, Special Representative Tells Security Council
Head of Peacekeeping Operations, Permanent Representatives also Brief Members
It was clear that there were huge expectations for South Sudan’s transition into a stable democracy, but even with the best of intentions on the part of its leadership, the Government would need all of the support it could get, Hilde Johnson, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in that country, told the Security Council today.
Briefing Council members on the Secretary-General’s first quarterly report on the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Ms. Johnson emphasized that the Mission and the international community must quickly mobilize the political will, resources and capacities to capitalize on the momentum from independence and ensure that priorities and spending decisions were aligned with the needs of citizens.
She said that notable achievements during the challenging start-up period included the Mission’s rapid response to the unfolding crisis in Jonglei State, the first steps to develop broader and more representative Government institutions, including the legislature, and President Salva Kiir’s commitment to enact five bills relating to public financial management and accountability.
Describing the crisis in Jonglei State as the most significant threat to civilians during the reporting period, she said UNMISS had quickly responded with a multifaceted approach, entailing monitoring and early-warning assessments as well as air and long-range ground patrols aimed at ensuring deterrence and local reconciliation in addition to providing political good offices. The Government had made significant strides to neutralize internal security threats through the integration of rebel militia groups, but a few of them remained outside those processes, she added. UNMISS was working closely with the Government to ensure the implementation of Security Council resolution 1996 (2011), and the newly established UNMISS-RSS ( Republic of South Sudan) mechanism would oversee nationwide raising of awareness about the Mission’s mandate the status-of-forces agreement.
Pointing out that the UNMISS mandate did not cover monitoring South Sudan’s border with Sudan or the relationship between the two countries, she underlined that peace and stability in the region depended on good relations between the neighbours. UNMISS stood ready to support the Government of South Sudan in meeting challenges and filling critical capacity gaps, especially in the area of human rights and the rule of law, she added.
Separately, Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations briefed the Council on recent tensions on the border between the two countries, stressing that only the two parties, working together, could efficiently manage security on their common border. He said the escalating rhetoric over cross-border incursions was worrying, noting that the African Union High-level Implementation Panel had called for a meeting of the Joint Political and Security Mechanism between the two Governments on 18 November. He urged both Governments to seize that opportunity to de-escalate the situation and move swiftly towards establishing the joint border-monitoring mechanism upon which they had agreed on 30 July.
He went on to note that UNMISS had verified bombardments in Quffa, Maban County, Upper Nile State, on 8 November. Additionally, the Mission had confirmed that fighting had taken place in northern Manyo County, and had supported the medical evacuation of nine seriously injured soldiers of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) from Renk to Juba. However, it had not been able to verify allegations of fighting and cross-border incursions in Kuek, Manyo County, Upper Nile State, on 11 November.
Mr. Ladsous recalled that he had received reports over the weekend that a new military alliance of Darfur rebel movements and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North had called for the forcible removal from power of the Sudanese Government. That was a step further in a pattern of escalation, he said, describing it as counter-productive. All parties to the different conflicts needed to return to the negotiating table and resolve differences through political dialogue, he stressed. “There is no military solution to the Sudan conflicts,” he added. “All military actions only endanger the lives of innocent civilians, who deserve a return to peace and stability after so many years of fighting.”
South Sudan’s representative said his country had made progress on the “100-day programme”, in particular the commitment to enact legislation on transparency and accountability, and was moving ahead with plans to establish the National Constitutional Review Commission in early 2012. Those actions would contribute to the establishment of a fully functioning democracy, in which the Government would be accountable to the people and act in their interest.
Expressing concern over the security situation in Jonglei and Upper Nile States, he said President Kiir had extended an amnesty to all militia groups on 9 July. Since then, the Government had worked successfully to forge agreements with several groups, resulting in their integration into the South Sudan Armed Forces, he said, adding that it would take its primary responsibility to protect civilians very seriously, and had mobilized troops to the areas of greatest concern.
He encouraged both the Government of Sudan and opposition forces to engage in mutually beneficial discussions that would facilitate a peaceful resolution to hostilities and alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States.
Sudan’s representative said his country was committed to a peaceful process aimed at resolving outstanding issues, adding that any allegation that the Government was seeking any military action against the South was “unacceptable”. However, the Government of South Sudan continued to support Sudanese rebel movements, including by supervising two meetings that had established the Sudanese Revolutionary Front, aimed at toppling the Government in the North.
He went on to point out that the Yida camp had been found alongside a lake straddling the Sudan-South Sudan border. It was not a refugee camp, but a camp of the ninth brigade of the SPLA, he said, adding: “I never lie, and I don’t lie now.” He expressed hope that the information would provide assurance that no military action had been taken against civilians. However, Sudan had a right to self-defence on its territory, he stressed, while assuring the Council that his country would never conduct military operations on the territory of South Sudan.
According to the Secretary-General’s report (document S/2011/678), delays in resolving outstanding Comprehensive Peace Agreement and post-independence negotiations — particularly on financial arrangements, Abyei and border demarcation — have contributed to a lack of progress in North-South relations. An 8 October meeting between President Kiir and President Omer al-Bashir in Khartoum resulted in commitment by both leaders to work together to resolve those issues.
The report notes that four attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) could not be confirmed, and other unverified reports also suggested LRA movement in the direction of Darfur. Under the UNMISS military concept of operations, planned deployments to LRA-affected areas have been doubled.
As of 22 September, the strength of the UNMISS military component stood at 5,329, out of 7,000 authorized troops, the report says. Security developments since the Mission’s establishment have required that the military achieve and sustain, over a protracted period, a considerably swifter operational tempo than that seen in the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), placing significant strain on the force. The Secretary-General reiterates in that regard his earlier recommendation that the Mission’s troop strength be maintained at 7,000 for the time being. UNMISS has deployed 375 of the 900 authorized police advisers, who have focused on building the capacity of the South Sudan Police Service, the report says, going on to describe developments in the areas of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, security-sector reform, mine action and protection of civilians.
The report says that due to the security environment and food insecurity, humanitarian conditions deteriorated in the post-independence period. Since independence, humanitarian organizations have recorded 27 incidents in which SPLA or other State actors interfered with relief operations, looted supplies and harassed personnel. The Government has launched the South Sudan Development Plan, covering the period until 2013, with four priority areas: governance, economic development, social and human development, and conflict prevention and security. Stabilization programmes, funded through the Sudan Recovery Fund–South Sudan, amount to $85 million and are now being implemented in four of South Sudan’s most insecure and conflict-prone states.
According to the report, more than 342,000 South Sudanese have returned from Sudan Since October 2010, and the pace of new arrivals has increased since July, with an estimated 500 people a day entering South Sudan. Official reports say that 4,300 South Sudanese personnel from the Police Service, the Prisons Service and the Fire Brigade have returned to the South and are being screened. A process is currently under way for the absorption of 17,000 civil servants returning to South Sudan.
The Secretary-General concludes that while most of the threats posed to security and stability in South Sudan are internal, the lack of stability in its relations with Sudan weighs heavily on the new Government. The threat from Sudan, whether perceived or real, will impinge upon the new Government’s spending and decision-making, with potentially adverse implications for key priorities until the conflicts have been resolved. He therefore calls on both Governments to demonstrate the commitment and flexibility to agree on key post-independence issues and move towards a strong, mutually beneficial partnership.
The meeting began at 3:35 p.m. and ended at 4:05 p.m.
* *** *For information media • not an official record