Expected Council Action
In June, the Security Council will be briefed on the Secretary-General’s 90-day report on South Sudan, which members expect to receive by 13 June.
The mandate of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) expires on 15 March 2023.
Key Recent Developments
Overall implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) remains slow, selective and significantly behind schedule. The government has said elections will take place next year, but it has not yet set an electoral timetable. Sub-national and intercommunal conflict continues. In May, relative calm was reported in Leer County, Unity State, following waves of brutal violence. The humanitarian situation there, however, is dire. Since the violence began there in January, some 181 people are estimated to have been killed, including 23 children, according to a 6 May UNMISS statement. In addition, there were 101 reported incidents of sexual violence and abductions of 26 women and children in Leer. The statement said approximately 40,000 people in this county had fled their homes. A 10 May UNMISS statement said that despite an overall decrease in violence against civilians in South Sudan, cases of conflict-related sexual violence more than doubled compared to the same period last year, according to a report prepared by the mission’s Human Rights Division covering January to March.
Human rights, humanitarian, food security, and economic conditions remain difficult across the country, with an enormously detrimental effect on civilians. South Sudan is projected to suffer a fourth consecutive year of extreme flooding over the coming months. On 7 May, OCHA announced that the South Sudan Humanitarian Fund and the Central Emergency Response Fund had released $19 million to help communities in South Sudan prepare for severe flooding expected during the rainy season. The funding will go to UN agencies and non-governmental organisations to prepare and protect people in the Bentiu camp for internally displaced people and surrounding areas in Unity State, which are among the areas most exposed to severe flooding.
On 26 May, the Council adopted resolution 2633, which renewed the South Sudan sanctions regime for one year—including targeted sanctions and the arms embargo—and the mandate of the 2206 South Sudan Sanctions Committee’s Panel of Experts. China, Gabon, India, Kenya and Russia abstained. The resolution reiterates the Council’s readiness to review the arms embargo, through modification, suspension, or progressive lifting of these measures, in light of progress achieved on the benchmarks outlined in resolution 2577. It also encourages South Sudanese authorities to achieve further progress in this regard and requests the Secretary-General to submit an assessment report on progress achieved on the benchmarks by 15 April 2023. The resolution contains a new paragraph that decides that the arms embargo will not apply to the supply, sale or transfer of non-lethal military equipment solely in support of the implementation of the terms of the peace agreement.
Council members were last briefed on South Sudan on 7 March. Special Representative and head of UNMISS Nicholas Haysom briefed the Council on the 90-day report of the Secretary-General. Major General (Retired) Charles Tai Gituai, Interim Chairperson of the reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and Riya William Yuyada, a civil society representative, also briefed.
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 17 May, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ilze Brands Kehris began a three-day mission to South Sudan, followed by a visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In South Sudan, Brands Kehris met national and local authorities, civil society representatives, human rights defenders, and international and regional partners. She also held discussions with UNMISS and the UN Country Team to discuss ongoing efforts to promote human rights, peace and justice, and visited sites for internally displaced people in Juba and in the town of Yei.
On 28 April, the Panel of Experts assisting the 2206 South Sudan Sanctions Committee transmitted its final report to the Council. It said that “almost every component of the [R-ARCSS] is now hostage to the political calculations of the country’s military and security elites, who use a combination of violence, misappropriated public resources and patronage to pursue their own narrow interests”. It added that “much of the [R-ARCSS] remains gridlocked by political disputes between its principal signatories” and that “there remains an urgent need for increased engagement to salvage” it. The panel found that “leaders have…tried to channel public resources into costly military procurement, including the import of armoured personnel carriers, in violation of the arms embargo”.
On 3 May, the Secretary-General transmitted his assessment of progress achieved on the key benchmarks established in paragraph 2 of resolution 2577, which renewed the sanctions regime in 2021. The report found that the government had made limited progress in the implementation of the five benchmarks set out in resolution 2577 and that “further efforts are needed”. It added that the continued support of regional and subregional actors, in particular the AU and IGAD, and of the international community will remain critical.
Key Issues and Options
Significant political challenges persist in South Sudan related to the delays in implementing the R-ARCSS. Given this situation, the Council could consider holding an informal interactive dialogue (IID) with key stakeholders, including a representative of IGAD and the AU, to exchange ideas about how to support the parties in meeting their obligations under the agreement. 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.
Differences of view on issues such as how to depict the situation on the ground in South Sudan, the utility of sanctions and the effects of climate change continue to influence Council dynamics, as they have in previous years. Most Council members remain concerned about the delays in implementing the R-ARCSS, ongoing intercommunal violence, high levels of sexual violence and the economic and humanitarian crises.
Sanctions on South Sudan remain a divisive issue in the Council. Negotiations this year were once again very difficult. It seems that members such as China, India and Russia were of the view that the resolution should contain language on the easing or lifting of sanctions. These members apparently expressed strong opposition to a renewal of the regime without this language; however, several members shared the view that there had not been adequate progress on the benchmarks to warrant consideration of the easing or lifting of sanctions at this time. (For more, see our 25 May What’s In Blue story.)
The US is the penholder on South Sudan. Ambassador Michel Xavier Biang (Gabon) chairs the 2206 South Sudan Sanctions Committee.
UN DOCUMENTS ON SOUTH SUDAN
|Security Council Resolutions|
|26 May 2022S/RES/2633||This renewed the sanctions regime for one year.|
|15 March 2022S/RES/2625||This renewed the mandate of UNMISS until 15 March 2023.|
|3 May 2022S/2022/370||This was the assessment of progress achieved on the key benchmarks established in paragraph 2 of resolution 2577, which renewed the sanctions regime.|
|25 February 2022S/2022/156||This was the 90-day report on South Sudan.|
|Security Council Letters|
|28 April 2022S/2022/359||This was the final report of the Panel of Experts.|
|20 January 2022S/2022/42||This was on the appointment of the Panel of Experts.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|7 March 2022S/PV.8987||This was a briefing on South Sudan.|