July 2017 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 June 2017
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AFRICA

South Sudan

Expected Council Action

In July, the Council is expected to consider the Secretary-General’s 30-day assessment of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the deployment and future requirements of the Regional Protection Force (RPF).

The UNMISS mandate expires on 15 December 2017. 

Key Recent Developments

The onset of the rainy season in South Sudan has limited mobility and reduced large-scale military offensives, but the unilateral ceasefire declared by President Salva Kiir on 22 May has not been implemented and violence continues across the country. The Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) has consolidated its territorial control despite the rains. The humanitarian situation in South Sudan remains dire, as limits on humanitarian access, mass displacement, famine, and food insecurity are compounded by the rains and a cholera outbreak.

The lack of progress in the deployment of the Juba-based RPF—which was authorised on 12 August 2016 to use all necessary means to facilitate freedom of movement, to protect the airport, and to protect civilians—remains an ongoing problem. RPF infantry battalions are set to arrive by late July. However, there has still not been agreement regarding the RPF’s mandate to protect Juba International Airport, with the government consistently reiterating that it needs to retain control over safeguarding the airport.  

On 12 June, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) held an Extra-Ordinary Summit of Heads of State held in Addis Ababa. South Sudan was a major focus of the summit, and of the resulting communiqué in which IGAD:

  • strongly condemned violence perpetuated by government forces and armed groups in South Sudan;
  • decided to convene a meeting of RPF troop-contrubuting countries, the South Sudanese government and the UN, to resolve the impediments to the RPFs deployment; and
  • decided to convene a High-level Revitalization Forum to “discuss concrete measures, to restore permanent ceasefire, to full implementation [sic] of the Peace Agreement and to develop a revised and realistic timeline and implementation schedule towards a democratic election at the end of the transition period”.

On 21 June, the Council was briefed by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix and Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan Nicholas Haysom (via VTC). Lacroix began by emphasising that the current humanitarian crisis in South Sudan is the result of the decision by all parties to continue fighting. He emphasised that unless a ceasefire was implemented and the political process restarted, it would not be possible to hold free, fair and peaceful elections in 2018.

Haysom’s briefing focused on efforts to restart the political process. He welcomed the IGAD summit and communiqué and affirmed the UN’s support for the High-level Revitalization Forum. Regarding the national dialogue, Haysom emphasised that while it could be an important nation-building exercise, the dialogue must be preceded by an inclusive political process that ended the current fighting. Haysom reported that he was working on a joint action plan for South Sudan with the chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, Festus Mogae, and the African Union (AU) High Representative for South Sudan, Alpha Konaré. Haysom hoped that the plan would be presented to regional leaders in the coming weeks.

Key Issues

The immediate issue for the Council is whether it can support IGAD’s efforts to revitalise the political progress, either by exerting pressure on the South Sudanese government and opposition to implement a ceasefire and embrace an inclusive process, or by combining both incentives and disincentives.

Another issue is how to complete the deployment of the RPF and ensure that it enables the redeployment of other UNMISS elements to areas where civilian populations are threatened by ongoing violence.

The larger issue for the Council remains how to encourage greater cooperation by the government, including ending the ongoing violence against civilians and removing impediments to both humanitarian access and UNMISS’s ability to carry out its mandate.

Options

One option would be for the Council to adopt a presidential statement that:

  • strongly condemns violence perpetuated by government forces and armed groups in South Sudan, and calls for an immediate ceasefire;
  • welcomes the communiqué of the 12 June IGAD Summit; and
  • emphasises the Council’s united support for the High-level Revitalization Forum.

Another option for the Council is to impose an arms embargo on the country and/or an assets freeze and travel ban on key figures responsible for the ongoing violence.

An alternative option would be for the Council to attempt to incentivise cooperation by the South Sudanese government by offering conditional support, possibility including logistical support, for the national dialogue. Conditions might include implementation of a ceasefire, the government’s participation in a revived and inclusive political process, and confirmation that the national dialogue will have a neutral chairperson.

Council Dynamics

The Council remains divided on its approach to South Sudan. There is no consensus on the degree to which the Council should welcome the national dialogue as it is currently presented by the government of South Sudan. Some Council members are concerned that a focus on the national dialogue may come at the cost of reviving the inclusive political process. Council members also remain divided over whether to incentivise cooperation by the South Sudanese government, or whether the targeting of civilians by SPLA forces necessitates a strong response by the Council to push the South Sudanese government towards peace.  

During the 21 June briefing, some Council members welcomed the IGAD communiqué and emphasised the need for all parties to commit to implementation of a ceasefire and participation in an inclusive political process.

The US is the penholder on South Sudan, while Senegal chairs the 2206 South Sudan Sanctions Committee.

UN DOCUMENTS ON SOUTH SUDAN

Security Council Resolutions
24 May 2017 S/RES/2353 This extended the mandate of the South Sudan sanctions regime until May 2018.
16 December 2016 S/RES/2327 This extended the mandate of UNMISS for one year and reauthorised the Regional Protection Force.
12 August 2016 S/RES/2304 This resolution authorised the Regional Protection Force.
Security Council Presidential Statements
23 March 2017 S/PRST/2017/4 This statement emphasised the need for a political solution to the conflict in South Sudan.
Security Council Meeting Records
21 June 2017 S/PV.7982 This was a briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix and Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan Nicholas Haysom.
24 May 2017 S/PV.7950 This was a briefing by Shearer.
25 April 2017 S/PV.7930 This was a briefing by the head of UNMISS, David Shearer.
23 March 2017 S/PV.7906 This was a high-level briefing on South Sudan.
10 March 2017 S/PV.7897 This was a briefing on the humanitarian situation in South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Lake Chad Basin.
Secretary-General’s Reports
15 June 2017 S/2017/505 This was the 90-day report on UNMISS.
Other
23 December 2016 S/2016/1085 This was the draft resolution on an arms embargo and targeted sanctions that failed to receive the necessary support to be adopted. It received seven affirmative votes (France, New Zealand, Spain, Ukraine, Uruguay, the UK and the US) and eight abstentions (Angola, China, Egypt, Japan, Malaysia, Russia, Senegal, and Venezuela).