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Independence of South Sudan

On 9 July 2011 South Sudan became the newest country in the world. The birth of the Republic of South Sudan is the culmination of a six-year peace process and a new chapter in a region that has seen little peace in the last 50 years. 

New UN Mission in South Sudan

The Security Council established  as of 9 July 2011 the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) for an initial period of one year. The resolution 1996 (2011) PDF Document mandates UNMISS to consolidate peace and security, and to help establish the conditions for development with a view to strengthening the capacity of the Government of the Republic of South Sudan to govern effectively and democratically and establish good relations with its neighbours.

Accordingly the Security Council authorizes UNMISS to perform the following tasks:

  • Support for peace consolidation and thereby fostering longer-term state-building and economic development;
  • Support the Government of the Republic of South Sudan in exercising its responsibilities for conflict prevention, mitigation, and resolution and protect civilians;
  • Support the Government of the Republic of South Sudan, in accordance with the principles of national ownership, and in cooperation with the UN Country Team and other international partners, in developing its capacity to provide security, to establish rule of law, and to strengthen the security and justice sectors;
  • UNMISS will consist of up to 7,000 military personnel, including military liaison officers and staff officers, up to 900 civilian police personnel.

Photos of the independence

Closure of UN Mission in Sudan

On 9 July, the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) will ended following the completion of the six-and-a-half-year interim period set up by the Government of Sudan and SPLM during the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) on 9 January 2005.

On 17 May 2011, the Secretary-General urged the parties and the Security Council to consider a three-month extension of UNMIS due to ongoing security concerns in South Sudan that were directly related to security issues that the North and South had to address together.  In his report to the Security Council
(S/2011/314 PDF Document), the Secretary-General explained that this period would allow the mission to begin downsizing its presence in Khartoum while assisting the parties in seeking resolution to the ongoing security issues, as well as the residual CPA and post-referendum issues, including finding a mutually acceptable arrangement for monitoring the border.

On 31 May 2011, the Secretary-General transmitted a letter from the Government of Sudan (GoS) to the Security Council (S/2011/333 PDF Document) announcing the Government of Sudan’s decision to terminate the presence of UNMIS as of 9 July 2011.

Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Field Support, Susana Malcorra paid tribute to the work of the mission on a visit to Sudan in July:  ‘I believe that the people of this Mission need to be proud of what has been done in the referendum - it was an incredible achievement – it was an incredible challenge that most of the world believed was not going to happen.’ She continued: ‘I think people in this Mission have done an incredible job in the process of DDR; in the processes of for example of mine action – trying to make sure that they clear for mines important extensions of the territory; in supporting all the important mandated tasks by the Security Council but most importantly engaging with the Sudanese in trying to arrive to a better place where peace can be achievable.’

Situation in disputed Abyei

A separate referendum to determine whether the future of the area of Abyei lies in northern or southern Sudan was not held in January 2011 as originally planned, as a result of a failure to establish a referendum commission and lack of agreement on who could vote.

Renewed fighting broke out in the area at the beginning of March, driving an estimated 20,000 people their homes, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The Security Council, by its resolution 1990 PDF Document of 27 June 2011, responded to the situation in Sudan’s Abyei region by establishing the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). The Security Council was deeply concerned by the violence, escalating tensions and population displacement.

The operation will monitor the flashpoint border between north and south, and is authorized to use force in protecting civilians and humanitarian workers in Abyei.

Referendum process

The referendum to determine the status of Southern Sudan was held on schedule in January 2011, with the overwhelming majority, 98.83% of participants, voting for independence. The Secretary-General welcomed the announcement of the final results ,stating that they were reflective of the will of the people of southern Sudan.

The Secretary-General said that the peaceful and credible conduct of the referendum was a great achievement for all Sudanese and he commended the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) partners, the Government of Sudan led by President Omar Hassan Al Bashir, and the Government of Southern Sudan led by President Salva Kiir Mayardit, for keeping their commitment to maintain peace and stability throughout this crucial period.

The referendum was called for by the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), which ended more than 20 years of war.

The Sudanese authorities were responsible for the referendum process. Under the leadership of the Secretary-General, the United Nations provided technical and logistical assistance to the CPA parties’ referendum preparations through support from its peacekeeping missions on the ground in Sudan, as well as the good offices function provided by the Secretary-General’s panel aimed at ensuring the impartiality, independence and effectiveness of the process, and by the UN Integrated Referenda and Electoral Division (UNIRED).

UNMIS - a retrospective in photos

Key UN statements








UN Documents