Expected Council Action
In November, the Council will likely hold a briefing and consultations to consider the Secretary-General’s report on the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), expected to be released in early November. At press time, no outcome was anticipated.
The mandate of UNMISS expires on 15 July 2013.
Key Recent Developments
On 9 August, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) decided to include South Sudan among the 72 countries entitled to receive interest free loans. These loans, eligible to low-income countries, would be provided through its Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust. (In April, South Sudan became the 188th country to join the IMF.)
In August, rebel forces led by David Yau Yau ambushed South Sudanese soldiers in Pibor county in Jonglei state. Twenty-four South Sudanese troops were confirmed dead as a result of the attack, and a dozen others were wounded. Media reports have also indicated that large numbers of additional government troops were missing and presumed dead after the assault. (Yau Yau is a member of the Murle ethnic group, which has suffered significant casualties over the past year in incidents of inter-communal violence. Some analysts believe that his movement has gained support from the Murle, who have been angered by the “Operation Restore Peace” disarmament program that the government launched in Jonglei in March. They believe that disarming leaves them vulnerable to attacks from other ethnic groups.)
It was also reported in the media in early October that Yau Yau’s forces had taken control of some villages in Pibor county. Joshua Konyi, commissioner of Pibor county, also accused the rebels of killing civilians, raiding cattle and displacing hundreds of people in Pibor.
In recent months, UNMISS and international NGOs have expressed concerns with alleged human rights violations committed by South Sudanese soldiers and police during the disarmament campaign in Jonglei. In a 24 August press statement, UNMISS noted that from 15 July to 20 August, its monitoring teams “reported alleged violations including one killing, 27 allegations of torture or ill-treatment (such as beatings and simulated drowning in some cases), 12 rapes, six attempted rapes and eight abductions.” It added that most of the victims were women and some were children. In the statement, UNMISS also called on South Sudan to “take immediate action to safeguard recent gains in the peace process, stem human rights violations in Pibor county and hold perpetrators to account.” On 23 August, Human Rights Watch published an open letter to President Salva Kiir, urging him to hold accountable security forces responsible for human rights violations during the disarmament process. Amnesty International published a report on 3 October in which it detailed numerous human rights abuses committed by South Sudanese security forces in Pibor county from March through August during the disarmament campaign.
Sudan and South Sudan signed agreements in Addis Ababa on 27 September on oil transport and revenue, cross-border trade, border security and nationality issues. (The parties were unable to resolve other key issues, including the status of Abyei and disputed territories along the Sudan-South Sudan border.) These agreements were ratified by the parliaments of South Sudan and Sudan on 16 and 17 October, respectively.
On 18 October, the South Sudanese government gave orders to oil firms to begin production after a nine-month standstill. Government officials indicated that South Sudan could begin exporting oil again in roughly 90 days. (Juba initiated the shutdown after accusing Khartoum of stealing $815 million worth of oil being transported through Sudan from South Sudan.)
Deng Alor, South Sudan’s Minister for Cabinet Affairs, announced on 24 October that his county had offered to mediate between Ethiopia and Eritrea to help resolve their long-standing border dispute. He added that both countries had accepted the offer, and that the mediation process could begin as soon as November.
The humanitarian situation in South Sudan continued to be very challenging. The UN High Commission for Refugees estimates that over 175,000 refugees from South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan now reside in South Sudan in Unity and Upper Nile states. One serious health problem in Upper Nile has been the outbreak of Hepatitis E starting in September, and the risk remains that cholera or other water-borne diseases could break out as well, given poor sanitary conditions.
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 28 September, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on South Sudan calling on the government to strengthen ongoing cooperation with UNMISS on issues pertaining to the promotion and protection of human rights and encouraging the continuous commitment by the government to resolve all the outstanding post-Comprehensive Peace Agreement issues with the government of Sudan.
One key issue is how to address the allegations of misconduct against South Sudanese security forces conducting the disarmament campaign in Jonglei state.
A related issue is the Council’s approach toward the recent fighting between rebel forces led by Yau Yau and South Sudanese armed forces.
Another related issue is how to best nurture reconciliation among ethnic groups in Jonglei state, where inter-communal violence has been a major challenge over the past year.
An additional issue is how to assist South Sudan in coping with the refugee crisis in Unity and Upper Nile states.
A further issue is how to help South Sudan strengthen state institutions and manage humanitarian challenges, given the difficulties in the country’s economic situation.
A related issue is how quickly the Addis Ababa agreements on oil and cross-border trade will be implemented and what impact they will have in strengthening South Sudan’s economy.
Options for the Council include:
- listening to the briefing but taking no action at the current time;
- inviting the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs to brief the Council on the humanitarian situation, especially challenges facing refugees in Unity and Upper Nile states; and
- adopting a statement that calls on South Sudan to strengthen training standards for security forces conducting the disarmament campaign in Jonglei state and urging South Sudan to ensure proper oversight of their activities.
Council members have been focused primarily on Sudan-South Sudan issues in recent months, given the tensions between the two countries and the intensive negotiations in which they have been engaged. In November, the Council will have the opportunity to focus more substantively on South Sudan in particular, although there is awareness that many of the challenges facing the new country are linked to its relations with Sudan.
Several Council members have been very concerned about the difficult humanitarian situation in South Sudan, which has been exacerbated by the austerity measures the government put in place after shutting down its oil production earlier this year and by the large number of refugees residing in South Sudan who have fled conflict and food insecurity in neighbouring South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. There has also been concern in the Council with the inter-communal violence in Jonglei state and with allegations of abuse by South Sudanese police and military during the disarmament campaign.
The US is the lead country on South Sudan.
UN Documents on South Sudan
|Security Council Resolutions|
|5 July 2012 S/RES/2057||Renewed UNMISS through 15 July 2013.|
|11 July 2011 S/RES/1997||This resolution authorised the withdrawal of UNMIS.|
|8 July 2011 S/RES/1996||This resolution established the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).|
|26 June 2012 S/2012/486||This was the most recent Secretary-General’s report on UNMISS.|
Other Relevant Facts
Special Representative of the Secretary-General
Hilde Johnson (Norway)
UNMISS Force Commander
Maj. Gen. Moses Bisong Obi (Nigeria)
Maximum Authorised Strength
Up to 7,000 military personnel
Up to 900 civilian police personnel
Strength (as of August 2012)
6,633 total uniformed personnel (including 5,975 troops, 130 military liaison officers and 528 police)
802 international civilian personnel
Mission also includes 1,388 local civilian staff and 336 UN volunteers
Useful Additional Sources
Humanitarian Bulletin, South Sudan, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 15-21 October 2012
Letter to South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir on the Violence in Jonglei State, Human Rights Watch, 23 August 2012
South Sudan: Lethal Disarmament, Abuses Related to Civilian Disarmament in Pibor County, Jonglei State, Amnesty International, 3 October 2012