17 October 2017
8071st Meeting (AM)

South Sudan Leaders Bear Direct Responsibility to End Bloodshed, Reinvigorate Political Process, Peacekeeping Chief Tells Security Council

Permanent Representative Reaffirms Government’s Commitment to Revitalization Forum, Full Implementation of Peace Agreement

With regional forces being deployed in South Sudan to strengthen civilian protection, that country’s leaders still bore direct responsibility to end the bloodshed through efforts to reinvigorate the political process, the United Nations peacekeeping chief stressed to the Security Council today.

“I would like to urge Council members to use their leverage on all parties and encourage them to engage in this process meaningfully”, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said as he briefed the Council on the Secretary-General’s 30‑day report on the deployment of the Regional Protection Force, the work of the Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the general situation in the country.

The Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) had been trying to reinvigorate the political process through a Revitalization Forum, he said, but its efforts had met with a lukewarm response from the Government.  President Salva Kiir had reportedly supported the initiative but requested a series of clarifications.  IGAD had also met with opposition figures, including Riek Machar in South Africa, all of whom declared cautious support to the process.  He called on the Security Council to send a strong message to the Government and opposition leaders to cooperate with the initiative. 

In regard to the Protection Force, he said that the deployment of Rwandan and Ethiopian battalions was underway.  The road move of the main body from Addis Ababa to Juba was expected to commence in the latter part of October, subject to clearances by the Kenyan and Ugandan Governments.  Despite bureaucratic delays, the United Nations was working with the South Sudanese Government on a regular basis to expedite the deployment, he said, underling the importance of enhanced cooperation by the Government in the matter.

However, the security situation in the country remained a cause for serious concern, he continued, describing armed clashes between the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A‑IO) in the past month, including armed robbery of humanitarian workers.  All such incidents should be cause for grave concern given the imminent start of the dry season, which, with improved mobility across the country, traditionally led to increased levels of violence.

In addition, the Government’s security institutions and opposition forces continued to restrict UNMISS’ freedom of movement, he said and he strongly urged the Council to pronounce itself, highlighting that continued violations of agreements by the Government and restrictions imposed by the opposition were both cause for grave concern.

Despite enhanced humanitarian operations, the human rights situation remained extremely concerning, with extrajudicial killings of civilians, arbitrary arrests and detentions and repression of free speech, he said.  Over two million people had fled since the beginning of the conflict in 2013, with another 1.9 million displaced within the country.  In addition, attacks against humanitarian personnel and assets continued to increase, with over 100 incidents reported in August alone and two aid workers killed.  The imposition of higher taxes and fees on humanitarian organizations and other Governmental constraints exacerbated the problem.

Authorities in Juba remained focused on the National Dialogue process aiming to move towards elections and the end of the transition period, he continued.  The National Dialogue Steering Committee had reached out to some opposition parties as well as civil society organizations.  However, with the unwillingness, so far, of significant opposition groups to join, notably because of the concurrent military operations, the credibility of the process remained in question.

In calling for support to the IGAD initiative to revitalize the process, he stressed the importance, in the way ahead, of inclusivity, wealth-sharing and equitable power, as well as ending what he called “personality politics”.  “All processes and international support must strive to build institutions so that the politics shifts from ownership by individuals to those institutions that must be accountable to the people of South Sudan”, he said.

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) said that, given the worsening humanitarian situation in South Sudan, the cessation of all hostilities and safe access for humanitarian workers was critical.  In addition, the Revitalization Forum was key to restore the full implementation of the Peace Agreement.  All parties consulted had expressed support for convening the Forum and for cessation of hostilities, including the South Sudanese former Vice‑President, he emphasized.

He also noted that IGAD would be holding a summit in December to take stock of the situation and provide directions for the launch of the High-Level Revitalization Forum.  It would be an opportunity for the parties to implement the Peace Agreement, to restore a cease fire and to set a timeline for a democratic process.

He called for the entire international community, particularly the Council, to support the Forum without caveat.  The Revitalization Forum was “the only show in town” and all talk about parallel initiatives should be “thrown out of the window”, he stressed, while underscoring that success would depend on the willingness of all parties.  In regard to deployment of the Regional Protection Force, he reported that it continued according to the revised timeline, although serious problems remained.

ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay) voiced his agreement with the need for all stakeholders to stand behind the IGAD initiative, in particular the African Union, the United Nations and the Council.  Calling on all parties to commit to a ceasefire and to participate in the Forum, he also said he regretted that restrictions continued to be imposed on UNMISS and that the Protection Force was only operating at a limited capacity.  No State had the right to interfere in the functioning of a Mission established by the Council, he commented.

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia) called for the end to armed clashes to allow political progress.  Regional efforts were crucial in that regard, he said, thanking IGAD for its initiative which he recognized as the best way of getting the political process going again.  The launching of an African‑led hybrid court was also crucial as a means of justice and reconciliation, as was the complete deployment of the Regional Protection Force.  He paid tribute to the work and the protection focus of UNMISS as well.

AKUEI BONA MALWAL (South Sudan) said that, by and large, the Transitional Government of National Unity had recommitted itself to the High-Level Revitalization Forum and to the full implementation of the Peace Agreement.  The Transitional Government had proposed that it would participate in the Forum as one entity, a position he understood that IGAD had accepted.  One of the objectives of the Revitalization Forum was to accommodate any group that was currently outside of the Peace Agreement.  The Transitional Government was open to involvement in the Peace Agreement of all groups who denounced violence.

He went on to say that the basis for the Revitalization Forum ought to be the status of implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan, preceded by updates from the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission and the Transitional Government on the status of implementation.  As the establishment of permanent peace and security was paramount to unity among the South Sudanese, the Transitional Government would continue to welcome the deployment of the Regional Protection Force.

The meeting opened at 10:19 a.m. and closed at 10:52 a.m.

For information media. Not an official record.