Expected Council Action
In June, the Council will receive a briefing on the Secretary-General’s 90-day report on South Sudan as requested in resolution 2459. Consultations are expected to follow the briefing.
The mandate of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) expires on 15 March 2020.
Key Recent Developments
The overall level of political violence has been diminished since the signing of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) on 12 September 2018. However, ethnic and intercommunal violence continues, as do clashes between government and opposition forces in the Greater Upper Nile and the Greater Equatoria regions. The human rights, humanitarian, food security and economic conditions in the country remain dire, with an enormous impact on civilians.
According to the terms of the R-ARCSS, 12 May was to mark the end of the eight-month pre-transitional period and the start of the 36-month transitional period, with elections to be held 60 days before the end of this transitional period. In April, opposition leader Riek Machar, who has not yet returned to Juba from Sudan, called for this deadline to be extended, given that key tasks required during the pre-transitional period had not been completed.
A 2 May statement by the interim chairperson of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Committee said that 59 key tasks were to be implemented prior to the commencement of the transitional period; of these, 27 have been completed. The statement said there are 17 tasks ongoing and 15 pending. These include determining the number and boundaries of states and the composition and restructuring of the Council of States by the Independent Boundaries Commission; refraining from acts of sexual and gender-based violence; cantonment, disarmament, screening, demobilisation, selection, unification and training of forces; and the demilitarisation of civilian centres. The cantonment of forces was identified as especially critical, with no cantonment sites currently operational.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) convened a meeting from 2 to 3 May in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and Machar. According to a 3 May IGAD statement, the parties discussed the status of the implementation of the R-ARCSS and observed that pre-transitional tasks that are critical for the formation of the Revitalized Government of National Unity, such as the cantonment, screening, training, unification and deployment of forces and the determination of the number and boundaries of states, are pending. The statement identified a lack of political will, and financing as well as time constraints as major challenges to implementation. At the meeting, the parties agreed to extend the pre-transitional period by an additional six months to enable the implementation of the critical pending tasks.
A joint UN/AU/IGAD mission led by the Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix; the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smaïl Chergui; and the IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan, Ismail Wais, visited Juba, South Sudan, from 10 to 12 May. According to a spokesperson for the Secretary-General, the aim of the visit was to provide support to the peace process and the full implementation of the R-ARCSS, following the 3 May agreement extending the pre-transitional period by six months. The delegation met with Kiir; senior government officials; the National Pre-Transitional Committee, which is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the R-ARCSS; women’s organisations; and members of the international community. While the delegation acknowledged the need for a six-month delay to resolve key issues, it said this should be the last extension, according to the spokesperson.
The Council was last briefed on South Sudan on 8 March. (See our What’s in Blue story of 7 March.)
Council members received the final report of the Panel of Experts assisting the 2206 South Sudan Sanctions Committee on 9 April. Regarding the arms embargo, which also covers the provision of military assistance and training, the report notes the presence of armed Uganda People’s Defence Forces in the Equatorias; the ongoing arrival of cargo aircraft at Juba International Airport at night, of which there is no meaningful monitoring; and the failure of customs agencies of neighbouring states to provide inspection reports to the committee. As for the travel ban, the report noted overall significant progress towards the use of the exemption process. Regarding the asset freeze, the report documented several companies covering a variety of sectors linked to designated individuals and outlined limitations on the effective enforcement of the asset freeze in the region. On 30 May, the Council adopted resolution 2471 renewing the South Sudan sanctions regime for one year.
Key Issues and Options
A key issue is how the Council can support the parties in South Sudan as well as IGAD and other regional actors in the implementation of the R-ARCSS. An option would be to adopt a presidential statement or press statement calling for full implementation of the agreement and expressing the Council’s support in this regard. Council members could also consider imposing, or threaten to impose, further targeted sanctions against those who undermine the process.
Council members are following the situation in South Sudan closely and are supportive overall of the R-ARCSS and the roles played by IGAD and the region towards a political resolution of the conflict. Some Council members may be more optimistic about the progress made by the parties since the signing of the R-ARCSS, in particular given the decrease in political violence, while other members are more critical regarding the need for major deadlines to be met and for this to translate into improvement in regard to sexual violence, human rights and the humanitarian situation.
Russia abstained on resolution 2459, which renewed the mandate of UNMISS on 15 March. In a statement after the vote, it emphasised that significant progress has been made in implementing the R-ARCSS and criticised the resolution for not expressly welcoming the R-ARCSS. It said that the resolution was “overloaded with text on gender issues and human rights”. China and Kuwait also made statements pointing to the improved situation in the country since the signing of the R-ARCSS.
The US is the penholder on South Sudan. Poland chairs the 2206 South Sudan Sanctions Committee.
UN Documents on South Sudan
|Security Council Resolution|
|15 March 2019S/RES/2459||This was a resolution extending the mandate of UNMISS for an additional year.|
|28 February 2019S/2019/191||This was the Secretary-General’s 90-day report on South Sudan.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|15 March 2019S/PV.8484||This was the meeting at which resolution 2459 was adopted, renewing the mandate of UNMISS for an additional year, with 14 votes in favour and Russia abstaining.|
|Sanctions Committee Document|
|9 April 2019S/2019/301||This was the final report of the South Sudan Sanctions Committee’s Panel of Experts.|