Permanent Representative Says Government Has Begun Pulling Forces Out of Capital
International partners must work collectively to increase buy-in by parties to the recent peace agreement in South Sudan, the head of United Nations peacekeeping told the Security Council today, stressing the need to support activities to put an end to the “senseless conflict” in that country.
“The South Sudan peace process is at a critical juncture,” said Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, as he presented the Secretary-General’s reports relating to South Sudan (document S/2015/902) and the review of the mandate of the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (document S/2015/899). Now was the time for the Council and international partners of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Plus to invest politically in supporting the transition’s “take-off”, he said, warning that without such support, the progress made to date could be lost.
He recalled that, following the Permanent Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements workshop held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 21 October to 3 November, the parties had finally agreed on the outstanding elements of the security arrangements for Juba. On 18 November, President Salva Kiir had delivered a speech in which he had expressed the Government’s support for the peace agreement and outlined his priorities for the establishment of a Transitional Government of National Unity. Unfortunately, however, while the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) — the principal oversight body for the peace agreement — had held its first meeting on 27 November, the opposition and other political parties had not attended.
As expected, implementation of the peace agreement was progressing slowly and facing serious difficulties, he continued, noting that both belligerent parties had repeatedly violated the Ceasefire Agreement in multiple parts of the country since August 2015. The ongoing clashes between the parties, particularly in Unity State, continued to result in significant losses of civilian life, drive civilian displacement and increase humanitarian needs. “The single greatest contribution that the parties can make to the implementation of the peace agreement and the well-being of their people remains a full cessation of hostilities,” he emphasized.
He went on to state that President Kiir’s 2 October decision to establish 28 states continued to create controversy in the country. Strong concerns had been raised by the opposition and within other political parties in respect of the legality of that measure. The initiative could make reconciliation between the parties even more challenging at an important moment in the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity, he said, warning against unilateral political initiative by any party.
In that context, he said, the Secretary-General had proposed to the Council a number of adjustments to the mandate and configuration of the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS). They included a recommendation that the Mission be authorized to provide technical support to the Transitional Government in making constitutional and legislative adjustments; to help with planning for national elections; to assist in establishing transitional justice mechanisms; and to help in developing strategies for security-sector reform as well as disarmament, demobilization and rehabilitation. UNMISS would also continue to focus on the protection of civilians, he said, adding that an increase of 500 troops and 600 police personnel would allow the Mission to enhance its activities in that area.
Finally, in line with the recommendations of the High-Level Implementation Panel on Peace Operations, the Secretary-General had recommended a phased approach to structuring the Mission’s engagement in South Sudan, he said. A period of one year would provide the time required to implement the proposed mandate changes and assess their impact on the situation in the country.
Taking the floor after the briefing, Francis Mading Deng (South Sudan) said his country’s Government was committed to implementing the peace agreement, recalling that President Kiir had urged the National Legislative Assembly to honour its obligation in that regard. Indeed, the implementation process was underway, he said, adding that the Government had started to withdraw its forces to a 25-kilometre radius from Juba, as stipulated by the peace agreement under the security arrangements. On 27 November, JMEC had opened its offices in Juba, and on 28 November, former detainees had returned from Nairobi. Those from the SPLM/A–IO were expected to return soon, which would mark an important confidence-building step.
Noting that the Government was ready to form the Transitional Government of National Unity as soon as stakeholders came to Juba, he said there was reason to believe that all parties were interested in ending the violence and rebuilding the nation. However, while the Government was committed to the accord, it was bound to fall short due to financial and resource constraints, he cautioned, and called upon all parties to support the agreement’s peace implementation. “The situation remains dire and much more needs to be done, not only by the United Nations, but also the international donors” and other friends, he stressed.
In renewing the Mission’s mandate, the Council should consider reintroducing the building of capacity targeted towards implementing the agreement, he urged, adding that it should also include both the Peacebuilding Commission and the Evaluation Commission as a complement to its work. The report contained “encouraging” proposals, with many areas indicating a return to capacity-building, contingent upon progress in the peace process and available resources, which called for more international support.
Going forward, the Government and UNMISS should encourage civilians in protection sites to return home because the sites had never been intended to hold such large numbers, he said. There was also an urgent need to broaden the protection of civilians outside United Nations camps to the wider population. With that, he expressed hope that South Sudan would be involved in negotiations to renew the Mission’s mandate.
The meeting began at 3:05 p.m. and ended at 3:30 p.m.
* The 7569th Meeting was closed.