With a new roadmap for peace in South Sudan facing persistent challenges, the integral involvement of women is vital, along with international support to ensure that the country’s leaders fulfil their responsibilities, the head of United Nations peacekeeping told the Security Council today.
“It is imperative that women be represented in the ceasefire and transitional…mechanisms, as stipulated in the agreement,” Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under‑Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations said, in a briefing on the joint visit of United Nations and African Union officials to South Sudan from 7 to 9 October.
Joining him in briefing the Council were Smaïl Chergui, African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security (via tele-videoconference) and Phumzile Mlambo‑Ngcuka, Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women). Both accompanied the Under‑Secretary-General on the mission and met with leaders in Government and women’s organizations and visited the protection of civilians site in Bentiu that is administered by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
The Under-Secretary-General said that the signing of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan by the parties ‑ in which the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) had been integrally involved, ‑ were followed by confidence-building measures and preliminary meetings on implementation.
However, he acknowledged that there remained deep challenges and scepticism over whether the leaders of the South Sudanese parties will follow through on their commitments. Therefore, the Council and the regional partners must ensure accountability. Permanent adherence to the cease-fire and creation of the necessary structures that meet the Agreement’s guarantee of 35 per cent women’s representation across the executive arm, the Council of Ministers and the pre-transitional institutions was critical, he stressed.
The Executive Director of UN-Women said that South Sudanese women found themselves caught up in a “futile man’s war”, adding that they were frequently the victims of sexual assault, lost family members or had their livelihoods destroyed. Lacking any access to their country’s leaders, they appealed to the United Nations and the African Union to do more to hold those leaders accountable and had been disappointed by past resurgence of violence.
However, she underscored that the signing of the Revitalized Agreement with its requirement of 35 per cent women in the composition of important transitional and Governmental structures, raised hope. Women not only called for the immediate cessation of hostilities but also urged leaders of all warring factions to communicate with their followers and inform them about developments, as the fighting had not yet completely subsided.
Nonetheless, despite guarantees, she pointed out that so far only three women have been included in key transitional bodies. She urged Council members as well as colleagues in IGAD and the African Union to hold the parties to account. Women must play leadership roles from the beginning to ensure that institutions are reconstituted in a gender-sensitive way that focus on protection of civilians from all forms of violence, she stressed.
The African Union Commissioner said that both the African Union and the United Nations are duty-bound to engage the Government to emphasize the need of implementing the Agreement through coordinated, sustained attention. Welcoming the efforts of IGAD as well, he stressed that the Government must create an environment conducive to the integration of oppositions groups and factions outside the agreement must be brought to the table. Coordination between all concerned organizations was crucial in supporting implementation, he added, while emphasizing that “the African Union shares the view that the responsibility to fully implement the agreement now rests with South Sudan.”
Council members welcomed the Revitalized Agreement and its requirement for women’s involvement, while expressing concern over continued clashes, targeting of civilians, human rights abuses, sexual and gender-based violence, food insecurity and impediments to humanitarian assistance.
Most speakers called for all parties to immediately observe the required cessation of hostilities agreement of December 2017 without delay and allow unobstructed humanitarian operations, lifting taxes and local fees on such activities. Most also urged the provisions on women’s participation to be met as a matter of priority.
While most speakers also urged the Council and the African Union to ensure accountability by remaining closely focused on implementation of the Revitalized Agreement by South Sudanese leaders, some, beginning with the representative of the United States, stressed the need for the application of targeted sanctions on those who impede progress.
China’s representative, Council President for November and speaking in his national capacity, urged all of South Sudan’s partners to recognize the complexity of the issues facing the country and respect the country’s leadership in tackling them. Imposing any solution on them must be avoided, he cautioned, while also stressing the importance of women’s involvement.
The representative of the Russian Federation, however, emphasized that only a political solution could improve the situation of women and civilians in general, while he, along with the representative of Kazakhstan, underlined the principle of “African solutions to African problems”.
“A time of peace in South Sudan has arrived,” that country’s representative declared, thanking all those African partners who helped bring about the Revitalized Agreement. Citing President Salva Kiir Mayardit’s pledge to implement the accord in good faith and recounting the open celebrations after the signing, he said that elements of confidence-building are now visible to the population. Describing steps already taken under the Revitalized Agreement, he urged the Security Council to join the Secretary-General, African Union and IGAD in making sustainable peace a reality in South Sudan.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Poland, Côte d’Ivoire, France, Ethiopia, Kuwait, Sweden, United Kingdom, Equatorial Guinea, Netherlands, Bolivia and Peru.
The meeting began at 10 a.m. and ended at 11:55 a.m.
JEAN-PIERRE LACROIX, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, briefed the Security Council on the joint African-Union and United Nations high-level visit to South Sudan, undertaken from 7 to 9 October. That visit focused on strengthening the partnership between the two institutions in order to achieve an inclusive and gender-responsive peace in South Sudan. Noting the signing of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution in South Sudan on 12 September, as well as scepticism that another accord could deliver sustainable peace, he said the objective of the trip was to encourage full and timely implementation. It also aimed to emphasize the importance of the representation and meaningful participation of women in the peace process, as well as the need for the Government to ensure a protective environment for civilians, particularly women and girls.
Commending the mediation efforts of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and the African Union and international partners in reaching the Agreement, he said it provides a roadmap for an inclusive political settlement of the conflict. However, he also cautioned that the signature is only the first step in a process that has many challenges ahead. The pre-transitional period will require South Sudanese leaders to assume their responsibilities. It is particularly important to honour the provisions for women, including the 35 per cent guarantee for their representation across the executive arm, the Council of Ministers and the pre-transitional institutions.
In consultations on the ground, women in Bentiu related the violence that their families are still prey to, he continued. Those women stressed their non-involvement in the war, appealed to the visitors and their leaders not to forget them, requested that a protective environment be created for them and asked that those leaders ensure that women are included as key actors in the full implementation of the Agreement. Women representatives from civil society and Government in Juba echoed similar sentiments and highlighted the need to respect the cessation of hostilities. They urged that women’s engagement in monitoring the gender quota be made a priority. “It is imperative that women be represented in the ceasefire and transitional…mechanisms, as stipulated in the Agreement. At the local level, mechanisms enabling their voices to be heard would also be critical,” he stated.
He reported that the parties are taking initial steps toward implementation of the Agreement, including ratifications, meetings of leaders and pre-transitional bodies, peace celebrations, release of political prisoners and other positive gestures toward confidence-building and reconciliation. Localized confidence-building included meetings between the South Sudan People’s Defence Force (formerly the SPLA) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) in recent weeks, with negotiations on free movements in multiple locations.
“Hopefully, these initial signs of goodwill are a demonstration of a stronger commitment to the current process than was seen in 2015,” he said. He reiterated, however, that there can be no viable or sustainable peace unless the parties adhere to a permanent ceasefire, silence the guns, disengage forces and include women as key players. Unfortunately, sporadic clashes continue to take a toll on civilians, with reports of recruitment, including children. That, in turn, limits confidence in the parties’ willingness to implement the Agreement in full.
He stressed the important role of the Security Council, the African Union, IGAD and the region to continue to hold the parties accountable for their commitments. The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) will continue to provide support within the bounds of its mandate. It was critical that any modification of that mandate must retain the priority of protection of civilians and a single peacekeeping force with one unified command and control structure. In that context, he described consultations and assessments in relation to the Regional Protection Force.
During his visit, he advised authorities to concretely demonstrate, without delay, commitment to working together with all stakeholders and develop a detailed plan of implementation, including in the area of security, he said. The United Nations stood ready to engage with all partners to continue to support the implementation of an inclusive and durable peace in South Sudan.
SMAÏL CHERGUI, Commissioner for Peace and Security, African Union, said October’s joint United Nations-African Union visit to South Sudan ‑ the first of its kind to include the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) ‑ demonstrates institutional resolve to achieve equitable peace. The Revitalized Agreement, which the African Union and United Nations signed as guarantors, provides an opportunity to deliver inclusive and lasting peace. Both organizations are duty bound to engage the Government to emphasize the need of implementing the Agreement, he said, also commending IGAD for its efforts to help deliver the Agreement. “The African Union shares the view that the responsibility to fully implement the Agreement now rests with South Sudan,” he added.
The Government must create a conducive environment for the return of the opposition groups, he continued, calling on the National Pre-Transitional Committee to work to that end. The release of political prisoners and prisoners of war testifies to the commitment of all parties to implement the Revitalized Agreement. The African Union High-level Ad Hoc Committee for South Sudan met with several of the Union’s executive heads to discuss strategies to support the Revitalized Agreement. The Committee agreed to convene a meeting with the IGAD Special Envoy to exchange views on tasks to be undertaken by Union Member States. He said an African Union inter-departmental task force on post-conflict reconstruction and development visited South Sudan to enhance the Organization’s capacities there.
Voicing concern that the National Salvation Front has not signed the Revitalized Agreement, he called for greater engagement with the Front to better understand its concerns. He also commended UNMISS for its work in protecting civilians. “The Mission must be supported in whatever way possible to ensure it accomplishes its assigned tasks,” he stressed, adding that the Revitalized Agreement provides an unparalleled opportunity for the people of South Sudan to realize lasting peace. Successful implementation of the accord calls for coordinated engagement between the United Nations, African Union and IGAD. “Such coordination will help us persuasively insist on inclusive implementation processes that ensure the interests of all communities are catered for,” he concluded.
PHUMZILE MLAMBO-NGCUKA, Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, said the first-ever joint mission between her agency, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the African Union augurs well for reinforcing the nexus between development, peace, security and humanitarian arenas. Emphasizing that women are themselves defenders of peace and play a critical role in the sustainability of all peace efforts, she echoed speakers who welcomed South Sudan’s signing of the Revitalized Agreement, as well as the inclusion of specific provisions addressing the role of women – especially through its 35 per cent quota for women in the composition of the Executive of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity. Women on the ground welcomed the accord and not only called for the immediate cessation of hostilities but urged leaders of the warring factions ‑ as well as militias and non-organized forces ‑ to communicate with their followers and inform them about the Revitalized Agreement, as the fighting had not yet completely subsided. “As women, they had no disputes or hostilities to resolve,” she pointed out.
Women across the region found themselves caught up in a “futile man’s war”, in which they were frequently the victims of sexual assault, lost family members or had their livelihoods destroyed, she continued. Lacking any access to their country’s leaders, they instead are asking the United Nations and the African Union to do more to hold those leaders accountable. Furthermore, South Sudanese women want their needs and concerns to be considered right from the start in the upcoming constitutional review process. The African Union and IGAD must ensure continuous monitoring of the process’ inclusiveness and effectiveness. Yet, despite guarantees, the parties are not yet honouring their commitment to women’s meaningful participation – especially regarding the 35 per cent quota. Of the new bodies established, the National Pre-Transitional Committee has one woman member out of 10 and the National Constitutional Amendment Committee has two women members out of 15. Several other organs, including the Independent Boundaries Commission and the Joint Transitional Security Committee have no women members at all.
Urging Council members as well as colleagues in IGAD and the African Union to insist that the parties honour those critical commitments, she stressed that women must play leadership roles to ensure that institutions are reconstituted in a gender-sensitive way that focused on the protection of civilians from all forms of violence. “Women see this briefing today […] as an opportunity to make [Council members] aware of their appreciation of the Revitalized Agreement, and the threats to its full implementation,” she stated. They want their keen interests in participation to be noted and they want to take their destiny into their own hands. Among other things, women in South Sudan highlighted the important role of the Transitional Justice Mechanisms in deterring and punishing those responsible for sexual and gender-based violence and called for accountability mechanisms for transitional justice, including the Hybrid Court. They also called for the participation of civil society organizations in the implementation and monitoring of processes which will ensure women’s leadership, voice and agency.
JONATHAN R. COHEN (United States) welcomed cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union in South Sudan’s peace process, including its wider inclusion of women. “It’s time for the voices of women to be heard” and their contributions to be taken into account, he said. Citing progress on some specific deliverables, he said there is nevertheless clear evidence on the ground that runs counter to those leaders’ lofty rhetoric. Atrocities committed against civilians continue. In that regard, any such perpetrators or spoilers of South Sudan’s peace process should be targeted with sanctions. Meanwhile, journalists receive threats and humanitarian workers face serious obstacles or even physical harm. A key component of the Revitalized Agreement is the establishment of an environment in Juba that will be conducive to peace. He commended regional actors for their commitment to upholding the embargo preventing the flow of arms into South Sudan. Underlining that any efforts to restructure UNMISS is the Council’s prerogative, he said members should continue to prioritize efforts to end the suffering of the South Sudanese people, and he called on that country’s leaders to match rhetoric with tangible action towards building a lasting peace.
JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland) said that while there have been some encouraging events since the South Sudanese parties signed a new peace agreement, the peace process remains fragile. Her Government is seriously concerned about reports of civilians being targeted, human rights abuses, sexual and gender-based violence, food insecurity and impediments to humanitarian assistance. To improve the situation for the people of South Sudan, the violence must first end. It is therefore critical that all parties observe the provisions of the cessation of hostilities agreement of December 2017 without delay. At the same time, no accord will be durable without inclusiveness. Welcoming the Revitalized Agreement’s provisions on women’s representation, she stressed the importance of putting them into practice, adding that South Sudan’s women can play a vital role in peacebuilding and State-building, as well as reconciliation efforts.
GBOLIÉ DESIRÉ WULFRAN IPO (Côte d’Ivoire) commended South Sudan’s parties, as well as regional leaders and international partners, for efforts leading to the signing of the Revitalized Agreement. However, he expressed concern about the failure to implement that agreement to date, emphasizing that leaders should be working to help the people of South Sudan achieve their much-longed-for development and to live decent lives. Urging the parties to join in the positive momentum spreading across the region, he said South Sudan’s political process must also be expanded to include women. In that regard, he voiced regret that the National Pre‑Transitional Committee — tasked with overseeing the Revitalized Agreement — so far has only one woman member of 10. Warning that acts of vandalism being seen on the ground are negative signs, he said efforts are also needed to address the “thorny issue” of the army’s unification, and urged the parties to uphold all agreements reached on that crucial issue. Condemning the continued abduction and recruitment of child soldiers, he called for full accountability for all perpetrators of human rights violations before the relevant international justiciable bodies and called on South Sudan’s leaders to create the conditions needed for a lasting peace and the safe, dignified return of those persons displaced from their homes.
ANNE GUEGUEN (France) said her delegation remains deeply troubled about the continued high level of sexual violence being perpetrated in South Sudan, including gang rape and genital mutilation, which she emphasized are war crimes. All those responsible — including individuals within the ranks of the army — must be held to account, specialized police units must be established and women on the ground must have access to them. Emphasizing that “pledges on paper must be made into reality”, she said the plight of children is also of great concern. Since 2014, more than 600 children are reported to have fallen victim to sexual violence, but the real number of unreported cases is likely much higher. Underlining the need for women and young people’s meaningful inclusion in the newly signed Revitalized Agreement, she expressed hope that the accord will lead to a lasting and inclusive peace. “This period is of critical importance,” she stressed in that regard, calling for all relevant institutional provisions to be put in place swiftly. As 7 million of South Sudan’s people still require humanitarian assistance and food insecurity is widespread, humanitarian personnel must be free to do their jobs, and all threats and attacks against them must end.
MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia) said the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement remains the only viable option towards ensuring lasting peace in South Sudan and addressing the country’s current challenges. Acknowledging some of the scepticism towards the deal, she said recent positive developments are a clear indication of a collective commitment to implement the new accord. There is now a historic opportunity to end the cycle of violence and bring tangible results to the people of South Sudan, who have suffered far too long. “The opportunity should not be allowed to slip away simply because earlier attempts have failed to bring the desired results,” she said, urging the international community to seize the momentum as “there is no Plan B”. With IGAD requesting support to ensure the full deployment of the regional protection force, the Council has a particular role to play in the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement. Meanwhile, the assistance provided by the African Union, United Nations and wider international community should be extended. To nurture trust among the parties of the accord, more confidence-building measures should be undertaken. She went on to highlight the urgency of implementing the pre-transitional period tasks as stipulated in the Revitalized Agreement’s implementation matrix.
MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait), welcoming the signing of the Revitalization Agreement, renewed his support to the peace process in South Sudan and expressed concern over those who are hindering it. He said that women’s role in the process is vital. He looked forward to agreements on the transitional justice mechanism, to address the suffering of women and children in the country. Addressing humanitarian challenges is also critical. He called on all those who obstructed the delivery of aid to end their cruel practices.
OLOF SKOOG (Sweden), welcoming the strong partnership between the United Nations and the African Union, said that the joint visit to South Sudan showed the critical importance of women’s participation in peace processes. Welcoming also the Revitalized Agreement, he said all must weigh in to ensure its implementation. On his own visit to the country, he related, he sensed a new atmosphere of hope. Active Council engagement to sustain that hope should include both recognition of implementation and consequences for setbacks, he stressed, adding that an unconditional ceasefire is a precondition to any progress. There must be targeted measures against those who hinder the peace process. Welcoming the quota for women’s participation, he affirmed the importance of transitional justice to end impunity and stem gender violence. Access of humanitarian aid across the country must be assured and facilitated by the Government. The protection of children must be a priority, building on recent positive steps, including comprehensive assistance for those who had been recruited as child soldiers. An investment in long-term development is critical for the long-term success of all efforts. The opportunity of the Revitalized Agreement must be seized and must be a focus of the Council in the coming months, he stressed.
JONATHAN GUY ALLEN (United Kingdom), welcoming the signing of the Revitalized Agreement and the support for it from regional partners, said that “everything we do must sustain hope”. For that purpose, timetables must be followed. He expressed concern over continued clashes and problems in monitoring ceasefires as well as obstructions in delivering humanitarian aid, on the ground and through bureaucracy. He called on the Government to give waivers on taxes to humanitarian organizations and on the opposition to cease imposing unwarranted charges. In addition, he stressed that more must be done to open civic space, release more prisoners and implement other confidence-building measures. Women’s participation is crucial for the process to be sustained. He called for advances in transitional justice as well. Describing reports of crimes against children, he urged signatories of the action plan on the issue to follow through on their commitments. For the sake of the peace of South Sudan, all stakeholders must redouble their efforts to end suffering and bring peace, he said.
AMPARO MELE COLIFA (Equatorial Guinea) welcomed the recent visit by various international leaders to South Sudan as well as new efforts to incorporate women in that country’s Revitalized Peace Agreement. However, she expressed concern over continued reports of sexual violence on the ground and urged the parties in South Sudan to punish all such crimes, while immediately withdrawing any perpetrators from their security forces and ensuring justice for victims. “When women intervene in resolving a conflict, this helps keep families together,” she said, adding that women leaders also make critical investments in education and social development. Deploring the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war as “one of the worst attacks against human dignity”, she underscored the exceptional work of the United Nations panel of experts on the rule of law and sexual violence in conflicts and the new appointment of a victim’s rights advocate. Peace will not be possible without investing in gender equality and sustainable development, she stressed, welcoming the African Union’s people-centred approach to equitable growth within and between States, as well as enhanced cooperation between that organization and the United Nations.
LISE GREGOIRE VAN HAAREN (Netherlands) said that the women of South Sudan should be at the centre of all efforts of the international community to bring about peace. It is these women who suffer most from the ongoing, brutal and widespread fighting. She welcomed the signing of the peace agreement and thanked IGAD and the African Union for their leadership. She also welcomed the ratification of the agreement by the National Legislative Assembly of South Sudan. At the same time, she expressed concern about reports of ongoing fighting in Wau, Yei and Unity. Full implementation of the peace agreement is the only way forward. However, successful implementation requires the full and meaningful participation of women. There can be no sustainable peace if impunity exists and this clearly also applies to sexual violence in conflict. The Security Council can sanction perpetrators of such violence. She encouraged UNMISS to continue to strengthen its forward-leaning posture to protect civilians from physical violence, including sexual violence.
DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation), stressing that improvements in the situation of women and civilians in general will only be seen through progress in the peace process, welcomed the signing of the Revitalized Agreement. The details still need to be ironed out, but there is no doubt that it is a positive development. He paid tribute to the regional organizations for their work to bring about the Agreement and said their involvement is exceedingly important. He called on members of the Council to now follow up in providing genuine support to the peace process. Welcoming the formation of the Regional Protection Force, he said it is a good example of African solutions for African problems, adding that he stood ready to consider all reasonable proposals on that Force. He called for South Sudanese leaders to demonstrate good will and fully comply with the Revitalized Agreement, including strict observance of the timeline, to prevent recurrence of the problems under previous frameworks.
VERÓNICA CORDOVA SORIA (Bolivia), welcoming the signing of the Revitalized Agreement, said that trust must continue to be built in South Sudan to achieve sustainable peace. Affirming that the participation of women in the implementation of the Agreement is crucial, she welcomed the quota for women’s participation. The parties must work harder to ensure that the requirements were met. Women must significantly participate in the process at all levels, not only to work for a sustainable peace, but to ensure protection of women and justice for crimes against them. The establishment of the Hybrid Court and the exercise of political will of all parties is also critical. For that reason, cooperation between regional partners and the United Nations must be strengthened. She also expressed gratitude for the work of the regional organizations for their work.
GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru), acknowledging high expectations for the peace process in South Sudan following the Revitalized Agreement, said that success required support from all partners as well as confidence-building between the parties. Establishment of all necessary structures, including the Hybrid Court, was also important. As women were the main victims of the conflict, it is fitting that the Revitalized Agreement calls for greater participation of women, which, in any case, is always important for building and sustaining peace and making progress against gender-based violence. Compliance with the quota for women’s participation, therefore, must be ensured. Grave crimes must be duly investigated, tried and punished. With regards to the humanitarian situation, he urged urgent action to ensure delivery of aid. He also urged unity from the Security Council in working with regional partners to support progress toward peace in South Sudan.
DIDAR TEMENOV (Kazakhstan) joined other speakers in welcoming the Revitalized Agreement as a significant step forward. Commending the efforts of regional actors to help secure that accord, he described them as a good example of “African solutions to African problems”. “We have high expectations that this historic agreement […] will lay the foundations of durable peace and stability in the country,” he said. However, it remains worrying that South Sudan’s humanitarian and human rights challenges continue, with civilians — especially women and children — bearing the brunt. Hostilities between Government and opposition forces and violations of the Status of Forces Agreement persist, with the latter closely related to restrictions of movement imposed on UNMISS and interference with the implementation of its mandated tasks — including the protection of civilians. Calling on the parties to demonstrate political will to implement the new Peace Agreement, he said the Council should remain united in supporting them — along with regional actors — in implementing the accord’s provisions. Meanwhile, he said, true progress on women’s empowerment in South Sudan — like in many countries around the world — will require a total social transformation involving the State, judiciary, educational system, religious leaders and civil society.
MA ZHAOXU (China), Council President for November, spoke in his national capacity, welcoming the recent joint visit to South Sudan by United Nations and African Union leaders. Also welcoming the newly signed Revitalized Agreement, he nevertheless warned that “there is still a long way to go to ensure durable peace and stability” and urged all of South Sudan’s partners to recognize the complexity of the issues facing the country. Indeed, South Sudan’s leadership in tackling their country’s own affairs must be respected, and all external partners must avoid imposing any solution on them. Instead, their focus should be on ensuring that the parties cease all violence, build up trust and fully implement the provisions of the new Revitalized Agreement. Women must play a major role in that regard, he said, adding that the accord’s implementation is likely to be an extended process as South Sudan has long been ravaged by conflict with serious implications for its development and a high number of internally displaced persons. The international community should enhance its humanitarian support and assist with reconstruction, infrastructure, agriculture, education and health.
AKUEI BONA MALWAL (South Sudan), describing the Revitalized Agreement as long awaited and the result of efforts by IGAD leaders from Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda, underscored that “a time of peace in South Sudan has arrived”. Offering reassurance to the Council, he recalled the statement made by President Salva Kiir Mayardit on 15 September pledging to implement the Revitalized Agreement in good faith and appealing for forgiveness and reconciliation among the people of South Sudan. He also pointed to a peace celebration attended by South Sudanese opposition leaders and regional, African and international representatives on 31 October, illustrating that elements of confidence-building are now visible to the population.
Although the Revitalized Agreement had been ratified behind schedule by Parliament, there were encouraging signs: Political detainees have been pardoned and freed; the National Pre-Transitional Committee has held meetings in Juba and Khartoum; and most importantly, the President has met with opposition delegations. This is evidence that stakeholders are determined to make the Revitalized Agreement work. Moreover, contrary to what most observers believed in the beginning, the National Dialogue has been holding public discussions in an environment of transparency and openness around the country. He highlighted that some opposition parties are considering how best to join that Dialogue process, which has been considering issues of utmost concern to them. He urged the Security Council to join the Secretary-General, African Union and IGAD in making sustainable peace a reality in South Sudan.