Uphold Responsibility to Protect Civilians, Security Council Urges South Sudan Government, Expressing ‘Deep Alarm’ over Situation

SC/12288
17 March 2016
7650th Meeting (PM)

Uphold Responsibility to Protect Civilians, Security Council Urges South Sudan Government, Expressing ‘Deep Alarm’ over Situation

Presidential Statement Describes Attack on Protection Site as ‘Unacceptable’

The Security Council expressed deep alarm today at the situation in South Sudan, calling upon the Government to uphold its responsibility for the protection of civilians.

Issuing presidential statement S/PRST/2016/1, the Council noted that, while the ceasefire had largely held in the former theatre of conflict in Greater Upper Nile, ongoing violence was a matter of deep concern.

Further, the Council expressed its alarm over credible reports of armed men in uniforms of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) entering the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) protection-of-civilians site and firing on civilians.  Describing such attacks as “unacceptable”, the Council called upon the Government to investigate and prosecute those responsible, and commended the United Nations for having quickly announced the establishment of a High-Level Board of Inquiry.

The Council called attention to the 11 March “Report of Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Assessment Mission to Improve Human Rights, Accountability, Reconciliation and Capacity in South Sudan” and the 4 December 2015 UNMISS/OHCHR report “The State of Human Rights in the Protracted Conflict in South Sudan”, condemning reported human rights violations and abuses, as well as violations of international humanitarian law.  It also underscored its grave concern over the deteriorating economic and humanitarian situation, noting that an estimated 2.8 million people were severely food insecure amid continuing restrictions on humanitarian access.

Expressing deep concern over the failure of the parties to adhere fully to their commitments to implement the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan, the Council called for their full and immediate adherence to the permanent ceasefire and the complete implementation of the Juba security arrangements.  It also called upon the President, First Vice-President and Vice-President to take up their positions in the Transitional Government of National Unity in Juba.

Underscoring the pressing need for accountability in relation to abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, the Council called for the establishment of mechanisms outlined in Chapter V of the Agreement, including the Commission for Truth, Healing and Reconciliation.

The meeting began at 4:32 p.m. and ended at 4: 43 p.m.

Presidential Statement

The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2016/1 reads as follows:

“The Security Council expresses deep alarm at the situation in South Sudan.  The Security Council notes that while the ceasefire has largely held in the former theatre of conflict in Greater Upper Nile, it is deeply concerned with ongoing violence, as reported in briefings to the Security Council on 19 February.  The Security Council calls upon the Government of the Republic of South Sudan to uphold its responsibility for the protection of civilians.

“The Security Council expresses particular alarm at credible reports of armed men in Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) uniforms entering the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) protection of civilians site and firing on civilians.  The Security Council stresses that attacks against civilians, UNMISS personnel, as well as United Nations premises are unacceptable and may constitute war crimes.  The Security Council calls upon the Government of the Republic of South Sudan to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the attack and commends the United Nations for quickly announcing establishment of a High-Level Board of Inquiry to be convened by the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Field Support which will conduct an in-depth investigation into UNMISS’ response to this incident, and awaits with interest its findings.

“The Security Council condemns reported human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law and in this regard expresses deep concern over those detailed in the 11 March 2016 “Report of Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Assessment Mission to Improve Human Rights, Accountability, Reconciliation and Capacity in South Sudan” and the 4 December 2015 UNMISS/OHCHR report “The State of Human Rights in the Protracted Conflict in South Sudan”.  The Security Council expresses deep alarm at the numerous reports of sexual violence in armed conflict.  The Security Council also underscores its grave concern at the deteriorating economic and humanitarian situation in South Sudan, with an estimated 2.8 million people who are severely food insecure and that humanitarian access continues to be restricted.

“The Security Council underscores its support for the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) Chair, Festus Mogae, and calls on all parties to fully cooperate with him to advance the “Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan” (the ‘Agreement’).

“The Security Council welcomes some progress in the implementation of the Agreement, including the commencement of the work of JMEC, establishment of some of the transitional security mechanisms, agreement on the selection of ministerial portfolios, the appointment by President Salva Kiir of Dr. Riek Machar as First Vice-President, and the parties’ endorsement of the JMEC’s transitional security arrangements proposal.

“The Security Council expresses its deep concern at the failure of the parties to fully adhere to their commitments to implement the Agreement.  In this regard, the Security Council calls for the following steps to be taken:

1.    The Government of the Republic of South Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) fully and immediately adhere to the permanent ceasefire in accordance with their obligations under the Agreement.

2.    The Government of the Republic of South Sudan, the SPLM-IO and all other relevant actors extend their full cooperation to complete implementation of the of Juba security arrangements as decided by the JMEC Chair and agreed by the parties on 24 February, 2016.

3.    The President, the First Vice-President, and Vice-President, as set out in the Agreement, take up their positions in the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGNU) in Juba.

4.    The parties to the agreement abide by and take no action inconsistent with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) 30-31 January 2016 communiqué, which was subsequently endorsed by the parties and JMEC, on the issue of the Presidential Decree on the creation of 28 new states.

5.    The Government of the Republic of South Sudan and the SPLM-IO protect civilians and civilian facilities, including schools and hospitals, allow people to move freely, and allow in accordance with relevant provisions of international law and UN guiding principles of humanitarian assistance the full, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access to help ensure timely delivery of humanitarian assistance, to all those in need.

“The Security Council expresses its intention to review progress on the steps outlined above no later than 31 March 2016. 

“The Security Council underscores the pressing need for accountability for violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law in South Sudan, including ongoing violations and abuses that have been reported since the Agreement was signed.  The Security Council takes note in this regard of Chapter V of the Agreement, calls for its implementation, and appreciates the 26 September 2015 African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) communiqué in which the AUPSC requested that the Chairperson of the African Union Commission take all necessary steps toward the establishment of the Hybrid Court of South Sudan, which will have jurisdiction over serious crimes committed through the end of the transitional period.  The Security Council also calls for implementation of the other mechanisms outlined in Chapter V of the Agreement, including the Commission for Truth, Healing and Reconciliation.

“The Security Council expresses deep concern at reports of repeated violations of the Status of Forces Agreement and underscores the importance of close cooperation on this issue.  The Security Council underscores its steadfast support for UNMISS and renews its deep appreciation for the courageous actions taken by UNMISS personnel and troop- and police-contributing countries to protect hundreds of thousands of civilians under threat of physical violence and to stabilize the security situation across South Sudan.  The Security Council recognizes the need to strengthen cooperation between the Government of South Sudan and UNMISS to ensure the safety and security of peacekeepers and other United Nations and associated personnel, including humanitarian personnel.

“The Security Council reaffirms its unwavering support for the people of South Sudan.”

For information media. Not an official record.