Vice President-designate’s Return to Capital Should Clear Way for Transition in South Sudan, Peacekeeping Chief Tells Security Council

26 April 2016
7678th Meeting (AM)

Vice President-designate’s Return to Capital Should Clear Way for Transition in South Sudan, Peacekeeping Chief Tells Security Council

But Overall Situation Still ‘Very Worrying’, He Says, as Permanent Representative Pledges Implementation of Peace Accord

The arrival in Juba of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-in-Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) leader and First Vice President-designate Riek Machar should clear the way for a real transition in South Sudan, but the overall situation in the country remained very worrying, the head of United Nations peacekeeping told the Security Council today.

Presenting the Secretary-General’s latest report on South Sudan (document S/2016/341), Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said that Mr. Machar had landed in Juba on a United Nations aircraft less than two hours earlier, and was expected to be sworn into office later in the day.  “The arrival of the First Vice President-designate should open a new chapter for the country and enable real transition to begin,” he added.

“It is essential that the parties seize this opportunity to show genuine determination to move forward with the peace process.”  He said the next steps should see the prompt establishment of a Transitional Government of National Unity under President Salva Kiir as well as implementation of transitional security arrangements, including a joint operations centre to coordinate the deployment of security personnel in Juba.

Mr. Ladsous emphasized, however, that despite those positive developments, the overall situation in South Sudan remained “very worrying indeed,” with intermittent fighting reported in several areas, the humanitarian situation worsening in scale, scope and urgency, and human rights still a matter of grave concern.  “People’s coping mechanisms are exhausted and, for far too many, survival has become a daunting challenge,” he said, urging the Council to demand that all parties and armed actors uphold their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law.

He asked the Council to send a strong message to the Government and opposition over movement restrictions imposed on members of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and humanitarian workers.  Once in place, the Transitional Government must immediately address issues of governance, financial misappropriation and rule of law, he said, adding that significant reforms and international assistance would be needed to pull the economy back from the brink of collapse amid the slump in global oil prices.  He also urged the Council, in coordination with the African Union, to engage with President Kiir over the unilateral implementation of an order creating 28 new states, an initiative that would be detrimental to peace efforts and require tremendous resources that South Sudan could not afford.

Regarding the violence at the UNMISS protection-of-civilians camp in Malakal on 17 and 18 February, in which at least 25 internally displaced persons were killed and more than 140 injured, he said an independent board of inquiry was examining the Mission’s response to that incident.  In addition, a special investigation established by the Secretary-General was looking into all contributing factors in order to determine responsibility.  The Council would be briefed on both investigations by early June, he added.

Speaking after that briefing, Joseph Moum Malok (South Sudan) said he recognized the urgent need to form the Transitional Government of National Unity, and that, despite delays, the Government of South Sudan was fully committed to implementing the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan.  In fact, Mr. Machar’s swearing in as First Vice President would open a new chapter in the accord’s implementation, he added, while acknowledging the significant support provided by the international community in addressing the conflict in his country.

Council members also had before them the report of the Secretary-General on technical assistance to the African Union Commission and the Transitional Government of National Unity for the implementation of Chapter V of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (document S/2016/328).

The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 10:24 a.m.

For information media. Not an official record.