Special Representative Voices ‘Cautious Optimism’ over Progress in South Sudan, Despite Continuing Violence, Human Rights Violations

18 November 2013

Special Representative Voices ‘Cautious Optimism’ over Progress in South Sudan, Despite Continuing Violence, Human Rights Violations

18 November 2013
Security Council
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

7062nd Meeting (AM)

Special Representative Voices ‘Cautious Optimism’ over Progress in South Sudan,

Despite Continuing Violence, Human Rights Violations


Permanent Representative Highlights Offers of Amnesty

To Insurgents, National Struggle for Human Dignity, Justice, ‘Equality for All’

While continuing violence and human rights violations continued to impede progress in South Sudan amid the State’s struggle to establish and extend its authority, recent developments gave reason for “cautious optimism”, the senior United Nations official in that country told the Security Council in a briefing today.

“The world’s youngest nation is still travelling a bumpy road,” said Hilde Johnson, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).  Despite relative stability in Jonglei State in recent weeks, the vicious cycle of retaliatory violence — exemplified by the 20 October attack in Twic East County and the tensions between the Lou Nuer and Anyuak in Akobo and Uror — posed significant risks to the Government’s stabilization efforts.

Pursuant to Security Council resolution 2109 (2013), UNMISS had deployed more forces in areas of high threat, she continued.  Alongside the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Mission was also planning to implement the geographical reconfiguration of its military component so as to focus more of its forces in those areas.  It was imperative, she emphasized, to identify force multipliers with the requisite capabilities to augment the Mission’s early warning and rapid response capabilities.

She went on to note that prolonged and arbitrary detentions, excessive use of force and arbitrary killings by ill-disciplined security forces and agencies were challenging the protection of human rights.  UNMISS continued to investigate reports of violations and conduct capacity-building activities, she said, stressing that security-sector reform and transformation of the armed forces were the keys to a durable solution.  On that front, the South Sudan National Police Service was making progress by identifying institutional gaps and screening the force.

Turning to political matters, Ms. Johnson noted that a smooth transition had taken place within the Government, despite concerns about instability following President Salva Kiir’s 23 July decision to restructure it.  Another promising sign was the executive order issued last month, pardoning key opposition leaders.  However, the preparatory process for the national convention of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement would be a key determinant of future political developments, she said, underlining the need to monitor internal party dynamics “very carefully”.

The United Nations had undertaken an electoral needs assessment in September, she reported.  Public debate and an announcement by the President on 15 November indicated that South Sudan was committed to holding national elections in 2015, as constitutionally mandated, she said, cautioning, however, that time was running short with regard to electoral funding, as well as the necessary preparations.

Recalling that South Sudan had volunteered itself as a pilot country for the so-called “New Deal”, and that it had committed to entering into a compact of mutual accountability with its international partners, she said the compact was now well on track for an agreement between by both sides on 3 December.  UNMISS and the United Nations country team were conducting an analysis to increase collaboration in assisting that process, she said in conclusion.

Francis Mading Deng (South Sudan) said that, while his country faced challenges in building its institutions and consolidating progress towards democracy and protecting civilians, the national vision was clear:  a stable, peaceful and economically vibrant South Sudan committed to human rights and humanitarian principles.  “Ours is a struggle for human dignity, justice and equality for all, the normative foundation for universal human rights,” he emphasized.  War had devastated the country, leaving a legacy of violence that was fuelled by the spread of small arms, he pointed out.

For his part, President Kiir had restructured the Government in July to ensure better service delivery, he said.  The number of ministries had been reduced by one third and a new Cabinet had been appointed after extensive consultations with other political parties.  The leaner, stronger Government would focus on results in the areas of social services, agriculture, transport, mineral resources, energy and security, adding that on the development front, it would sign the New Deal Compact with its partners in December.

Turning to the situation in Jonglei State, he said the inter-communal violence there dated back years and had been compounded by an armed insurgency in an environment that was difficult to control and almost totally without infrastructure.  He urged an end to killings, kidnappings and property destruction, pointing out that the Government continued to negotiate with David Yau Yau, leader of the insurgency.  In a positive move, the South Sudan Liberation Army and other groups in Upper Nile State had accepted the President’s offers of amnesty for militias operating in the country, he said.  In the long term, addressing the violence would involve providing schools, health centres, roads and stronger government.

As for the status-of-forces agreement, he expressed deep regret over any violations, saying the Government had issued orders for an end to such abuses and to hold accountable those responsible.  It fully accepted the requirement to grant UNMISS unhindered access across the territory.  Emphasizing that human rights violations by no means reflected national policies or aspirations, he called for mutual understanding and close cooperation between South Sudan and UNMISS.  “Our will to remove the obstacles we face and become a peaceful member of the community of nations is undiminished,” he stressed.

The meeting began at 10:07 a.m. and ended at 10:30 a.m.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.