December 2021 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 November 2021
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South Sudan

Expected Council Action

In December, Special Representative and head of UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Nicolas Haysom is scheduled to brief the Security Council on the Secretary-General’s 90-day report on South Sudan, which members expect to receive by 7 December. Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy (Viet Nam), chair of the 2206 South Sudan Sanctions Committee, is expected to brief on the work of the Committee. Consultations will follow the briefing.

The mandate of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) expires on 15 March 2022.

Key Recent Developments

On 12 September, South Sudan marked the third anniversary of the signing of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS), but progress in its implementation remains slow. The Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (RJMEC), which is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the R-ARCSS, said in its most recent quarterly report (covering 1 July to 30 September) that any progress made, such as the August establishment of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly, “is overshadowed by the failure of the [government] to make inroads in key areas of the R-ARCSS”, particularly the graduation and deployment of the Necessary Unified Forces (NUF). The report identifies several obstacles, including “insufficient political will among the Parties to compromise where needed; trust deficit and lack of confidence among the Parties including intra-Party disagreements and infighting; delays and lack of prioritisation of key tasks; and lack of sufficient funding and resources”.

Localised ethnic and intercommunal violence continues unabated, including in the Tambura region in Western Equatoria. At a briefing on 9 November, the spokesperson of the Secretary-General said that recent conflict between armed groups in and around Tambura has resulted in civilian deaths and injuries, the displacement of over 80,000 people, and the disruption of humanitarian activities. The mission has established a temporary base in Tambura to carry out patrols, protect over 9,000 people who have sought refuge nearby, and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance, the spokesperson said.

The human rights, humanitarian, food security, and economic conditions in the country remain dire, with an enormously detrimental effect on civilians. Ongoing floods in the country are estimated to be the worst in 60 years. As at 3 November, flooding since May has affected approximately 760,000 people in eight of the ten states, according to OCHA’s October Humanitarian Snapshot.

Earlier this year, government officials said that the elections envisioned to take place in 2022 would be delayed until 2023. The parties to the R-ARCSS, however, have yet to reach agreement on the duration of the current transitional period and the date for elections at its conclusion. On 15 July, the Secretary-General transmitted a needs assessment to the Council in a letter that included security, procedural and logistical requirements to create an enabling environment for elections in South Sudan, as requested in resolution 2567. It recommended that the UN provide electoral assistance to South Sudan in an integrated manner, and as outlined in an annex to the letter, in two phases (namely in the immediate term and in the medium- to long-term, until the end of December 2023).

On 27 October, the Council adopted a presidential statement taking note of the Secretary-General’s 15 July letter and requesting “the Secretary-General to establish an integrated electoral assistance team led by UNMISS…to implement the electoral assistance activities set forth in phase 1 of the Annex to his 15 July 2021 letter”. It also urged “progress on key milestones that include: the necessary security arrangements; the establishment of the legal framework for elections [including the electoral system, dispute resolution mechanisms, and other matters]; the establishment of the composition and functioning of the National Election Commission and the designation of its members, both in Juba and at the sub-national level; and the allocation of resources for the operating costs of the National Election Commission and a budget for elections operations”.

On 15 November, the Council adopted a technical rollover resolution extending the mandate of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) until 15 December. The decision to extend the mission for one month was influenced by the military takeover in Sudan, announced on 25 October.

The Council was last briefed on South Sudan on 15 September by Special Representative and head of UNMISS Nicholas Haysom, OCHA’s Director for Operations and Advocacy Reena Ghelani, and a representative of civil society, Merekaje Lorna Nanjia. (For more, see our What’s In Blue story of 14 September.) During his briefing, Haysom emphasised the need for reconstituting the subnational state legislatures and passing critical legislation, as well as the importance of the constitution-making process. In relation to elections, he warned that “[u]nless there are adequate technical and political preparations, [the election] could be a catastrophe instead of a national turning point”. Haysom also expressed concern over the increase in subnational violence, the proliferation of weapons, increasing restrictions in civic space, a deteriorating humanitarian situation, and rising attacks on aid workers.

Human Rights-Related Developments

During its 48th session, the Human Rights Council (HRC) held an enhanced interactive dialogue with the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan on 23 September. The commission presented a conference room paper that “demonstrates that staggering amounts of money and other wealth have been illicitly siphoned from South Sudan’s public coffers and resources” and “illicitly diverted resources have also been used to fuel conflict and foment violence” (A/HRC/48/CRP.3). According to investigations carried out by the commission over the past two years “more than $73 million in non-oil revenue remain unaccounted for”, including transactions worth almost $39 million in a period of less than two months, which “represent a fraction of an overall pattern of theft”. It also found that “South Sudan’s system of oil revenue collection remains alarmingly informal and weakly regulated, lacking in independent oversight and transparency: invariably, this has provided considerable opportunity for corruption and the misappropriation of funds on a massive scale”. On 20 October, the commission released a statement expressing “alarm and dismay [over] the ongoing threats, harassment and intimidation of prominent human rights defenders, journalists and civil society actors”.

Sanctions-Related Developments

Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Virginia Gamba briefed the 2206 South Sudan Sanctions Committee during informal consultations on 15 October. Members of the Committee travelled to South Sudan from 17 to 19 November.

Key Issues and Options

Significant political and security challenges persist in South Sudan related to the delays in implementing the R-ARCSS. Council members will likely closely follow whether progress is made on the “key milestones” in relation to elections preparations, as outlined in the presidential statement adopted on 27 October. The Council could consider holding an informal interactive dialogue (IID) with key RJMEC officials to exchange ideas about how to support the parties in meeting their obligations under the R-ARCSS. The IID is a closed format that, unlike consultations, allows for the participation of non-UN officials and briefers.

Another key issue Council members will want to follow closely is the humanitarian and food security situation. An option would be to continue to seek regular briefings from OCHA on the situation

Council and Wider Dynamics

Council members remain concerned about the delays in implementing key elements of the R-ARCSS. At the briefing on 15 September, most members called for the parties to accelerate the implementation of the R-ARCSS, particularly in relation to transitional security arrangements. Several members emphasised the need to expeditiously enact the necessary legislation in this regard. Members also expressed concern over the dire humanitarian situation and attacks on humanitarian aid workers.

There has also been a focus on preparations for the elections. In the 15 September meeting, the US noted that “credible elections that reflect the will of the people must be preceded by an inclusive, transparent constitution-drafting process carried out in an environment that permits freedom of expression and provides space for political dissent”. The “A3 plus one” (Kenya, Niger, Tunisia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), Ireland, Mexico, and Viet Nam emphasised the importance of the 35 percent quota for women’s participation in the transitional government as agreed to in the R-ARCSS. China, Russia and Viet Nam expressed the need to review the sanctions measures.

The US is the penholder on South Sudan. Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy (Viet Nam) chairs the 2206 South Sudan Sanctions Committee.

Security Council Resolutions
15 November 2021S/RES/2606 This was a technical rollover resolution extending the mandate of UNISFA until 15 December 2021.
12 March 2020S/RES/2514 This resolution renewed the mandate of UNMISS until 15 March 2021.
Security Council Presidential Statement
27 October 2021S/PRST/2021/20 This statement requested the Secretary-General to establish an integrated electoral assistance team led by UNMISS.
Secretary-General’s Report
9 September 2021S/2021/784 The report presents political and economic developments in South Sudan and activities of UNMISS
Security Council Meeting Record
15 September 2021S/PV.8859 This was a briefing on South Sudan.
Security Council Letter
15 July 2021S/2021/661 This was a letter from the Secretary-General transmitting the needs assessment to create an enabling environment for elections, requested in resolution 2567.


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