Expected Council Action
In September, the Council will receive a briefing on the Secretary-General’s 90-day report on South Sudan. Consultations are expected to follow the briefing. Council members also expect to receive a written report from the Secretary-General during September on future planning for the protection of civilians sites. This report is to include “an assessment of each protection of civilians site, a review of the current model for providing security to these sites, recommendations clarifying the roles and responsibilities of UNMISS and other relevant stakeholders, and recommendations for steps necessary to foster a secure environment for the safe, informed, voluntary, and dignified return or relocation of residents of protection of civilians sites”, as requested in resolution 2459.
The mandate of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) expires on 15 March 2020.
Key Recent Developments
The overall level of political violence remains diminished since the signing of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) on 12 September 2018. However, slow implementation of the R-ARCSS has contributed to uncertainty around the peace process. Ethnic and intercommunal violence continues, as do sporadic clashes between government and opposition forces in some parts of the country. 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 the transitional period. In early May, the parties extended the deadline for the end of the pre-transitional period by six months, until 12 November, to complete outstanding tasks required during this period as set out in the R-ARCSS. The most recent report of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission on the status of the implementation of the R-ARCSS, which covers 1 April to 30 June, concludes that “there was a marked slow-down in implementation” and that “very little progress was made in accomplishing the pre-transitional tasks” required under the R-ARCSS. Of the 59 activities required to be completed during the pre-transitional period, 27 are complete, 17 are ongoing and 15 are still pending, the report said. Critical outstanding tasks include the cantonment and training of a unified army and agreement on the number and boundaries of states.
On 21 August, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) convened talks with the parties in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to discuss implementation of the R-ARCSS. An IGAD communiqué adopted that day “[r]ecommends to the IGAD Heads of State and Government to convene face-to-face meeting of the top leadership of the parties to discuss and resolve outstanding issues…[and] to hold an Ordinary Summit of IGAD in mid-September 2019 to deliberate on and decide, among others, the status of Dr. Riek Machar.” Machar has not yet returned to South Sudan from Sudan. (Under the terms of the R-ARCSS, Machar is to be first vice-president of the country during the transitional period, set to commence in November.)
The Council was last briefed on South Sudan on 25 June by Special Representative for South Sudan and head of UNMISS David Shearer, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour, and South Sudanese civil society member Lydia Minagano. (See our What’s in Blue story of 24 June.)
On 21 June, the 2206 South Sudan Sanctions Committee held joint informal consultations with the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee and the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee to discuss the presence of Darfuri armed groups in Libya and South Sudan. On 21 August, the committee was briefed during informal consultations by the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, in accordance with resolution 2428, as renewed by resolution 2471.
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 3 July, UNMISS published a report presenting the findings of an investigation conducted by the UNMISS Human Rights Division (HRD) into violations and abuses of international human rights law and violations of international humanitarian law attributed to government forces and opposition armed groups in the Central Equatoria region between September 2018 and April. The report said that the “persistence of human rights violations and abuses in this area…represents a significant negative trend”. During the reporting period, the HRD documented 95 incidents, including 30 attacks on villages, leading to the unlawful killing of 104 civilians and the wounding of 35 others, as well as the abduction of at least 187 civilians for forced recruitment, forced labour and sexual slavery. At least 99 women and girls, some as young as 12, were targeted with acts of rape and other forms of sexual violence during the reporting period. “In light of the deteriorating human rights situation in Central Equatoria and its potential impact on the implementation of R-ARCSS, UNMISS encourages the parties to the conflict to adhere to the 2017 Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, to which they are all signatories”, the report said, among other recommendations. The Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan conducted its seventh field mission to South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia from 19 to 29 August. During its 42nd session, the Human Rights Council is scheduled to receive an oral update from the commission on 16 September, followed by an interactive dialogue.
Women, Peace and Security
At the briefing on 25 June, Minagano focused her statement on “the gendered nature of the conflict, especially its impact on women and girls”; “the need to strengthen women’s meaningful participation in the implementation of the peace agreement, as well as decision-making processes”; “the critical need for security sector reform”; and “the importance of consulting with civil society in South Sudan, particularly women-led organizations.” She emphasised that South Sudanese people will not be able to move forward without challenging those in their communities who tolerate gender-based violence and ensuring accountability for such crimes.
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 given the continued delays in completing key tasks required during the pre-transitional period. An option would be to adopt a presidential statement calling for full implementation of the agreement and expressing the Council’s support in this regard. Council members could also consider imposing, or threatening to impose, further targeted sanctions against those who undermine the process.
Another key issue is considering the upcoming report from the Secretary-General on future planning for the protection of civilians sites, notably the site-specific assessments, clarifications on the roles and responsibilities of UNMISS and others, and the steps needed to make durable solutions possible for all displaced persons, as requested in resolution 2459. An option would be for members to use this information to assess the role of UNMISS in this context, given that resolution 2459 contained new language mandating the mission to “support the facilitation of the safe, informed, voluntary, and dignified return or relocation of IDPs from United Nations protection of civilian sites, in coordination with humanitarian actors and other relevant stakeholders, and within existing resources”.
Council members continue to follow the situation in South Sudan and support the roles played by IGAD and the region working towards a political resolution of the conflict. Some Council members are more optimistic about the situation in the country since the signing of the R-ARCSS, in particular given the decrease in political violence, while other Council members are more critical in light of slow progress in implementing key tasks during the pre-transitional period, as expressed in statements made at the 25 June briefing. Germany, South Africa, the UK and the US stressed the need for President Salva Kiir and Machar to meet. Several members referred to the persistence of human rights violations and abuses, including Belgium, France, Indonesia, Poland and the US. Members such as Belgium, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, France, Germany, Peru and Poland expressed concern over the continued prevalence of sexual violence.
The US is the penholder on South Sudan. Ambassador Joanna Wronecka of 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.|
|14 June 2019S/2019/491||This was the Secretary-General’s 90-day report on South Sudan.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|30 August 2019S/PV.8560||This was a meeting on South Sudan.|