We gather at a pivotal moment in the history of the world’s youngest nation.
The conflict that broke out in December 2013 dashed the aspirations of the South Sudanese people for a brighter future. It shattered the optimism of the international community. Thousands of lives have been lost in a senseless conflict.
When the parties signed the peace agreement last month, they created a new window of opportunity.
I welcome your participation, Mr. President [Salva Kiir], for your presence here today [by video teleconference], and also Mr. Riek Machar Teny and Mr. Pagan Amum Okech in their capacity as signatories of the agreement.
I commend the IGAD Mediation for its tireless efforts in helping the parties reach this agreement.
South Sudan’s leaders have a chance to correct their grave mistakes and focus on the well-being of those who entrusted them with this role – the people of South Sudan.
The road ahead will be difficult.
I urge the signatories to honour their solemn commitment and implement the agreement without delay. Reverting to war yet again cannot be an option.
I call on the parties to immediately cease all military operations and form the Transitional Government of National Unity to which they have agreed. The parties must also provide unfettered access to those in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.
Long-term reforms are essential in order for South Sudan to transcend ethnicity and rebuild a truly national identity. Every effort must be made to promote a more equitable distribution of power and wealth.
Horrific crimes have been committed against civilians in this war. The social fabric of South Sudan has been shattered. To mend it, the provisions in the peace agreement related to justice, accountability and reconciliation must be implemented in full.
I applaud the AU Peace and Security Council decision on the implementation of the Report of the AU Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan, and the commitment by the AU Commission to establish an independent hybrid judicial court, the Hybrid Court of South Sudan.
The United Nations will continue to stand by the people of South Sudan. We are ready to support implementation of the agreement and will continue to protect civilians and provide humanitarian assistance.
I call on the international community to provide economic assistance to South Sudan. The parties must, in turn, demonstrate a genuine commitment to the peace agreement.
I call on the leadership of South Sudan to voluntarily declare a halt to the import of heavy arms and equipment.
South Sudan stands at a crossroads. I call on the international community to remain engaged in every step of the implementation of the agreement. I appeal to all partners to reaffirm their unwavering commitment to accompany South Sudan along the path to peace, recovery and reconciliation.
Thank you very much.