Expected Council Action
In September, the Security Council will be briefed on the Secretary-General’s 90-day report on South Sudan, which members expect to receive by 9 September.
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) has been slow and selective. On 4 August, all signatories to the R-ARCSS agreed to a roadmap extending the transitional period by 24 months to enable the implementation of its key outstanding tasks. (The transitional period agreed to in the R-ARCSS was set to end in February 2023.) The extension was opposed by some non-signatory and civil society groups. On 9 August, the members of the Troika on South Sudan (Norway, the UK and the US) issued a joint statement with the EU that acknowledged the announcement of the roadmap but regretted that the process of finalizing the roadmap had been “insufficiently inclusive”, including the limited time to review and comment provided to civil society groups. The statement urged the government to consult further before completing the process of ratifying the extension as set out in article 8.4 of the R-ARCSS. (Article 8.4 sets out a three-stage procedure for amendment, namely approval by two-thirds of the Council of Ministers, consent by two-thirds of the members of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC), and ratification by the Transitional National Legislature.) UNMISS welcomed the roadmap in a 10 August statement.
The RJMEC, which is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the R-ARCSS, listed outstanding tasks in its most recent quarterly report, covering 1 April to 30 June, and noted that very little progress had been made in implementing the R-ARCSS, particularly in relation to completing the graduation and deployment of the Necessary Unified Forces, despite agreement in April on the command structure. There had been very slow progress on implementing elections-related tasks, the report said, including in passing relevant legislation. The report attributes these delays to a range of factors, such as insufficient political will; a trust deficit among signatories; military defections; threats posed by holdout groups; the cumulative effects of prolonged subnational conflicts; capacity gaps; lack of sufficient funding, including from international partners; and the dire humanitarian situation.
Sub-national and intercommunal conflict continues. The latest report of the UNMISS Human Rights Division, covering April to June and released on 3 August, recorded 922 civilian casualties, marking a 15 percent decrease in victims compared with the same period in 2021. However, there was a 218 percent increase in conflict-related sexual violence, including rape and gang rape. Sixty percent of civilian casualties were attributed to community-based militias and self-defence groups, while conventional parties to the conflict were responsible for 38 percent of civilian casualties. However, government and opposition forces have increasingly relied on proxy armed elements to engage in hostilities, the report says.
The humanitarian situation remains extremely difficult, with 8.9 million people in need and 7.7 million people estimated to face crisis or higher levels of food insecurity, according to OCHA. On 9 August, a humanitarian vehicle was attacked in Eastern Equatoria State, resulting in the death of the fifth humanitarian worker since the beginning of the year. According to OCHA, heavy fighting was reported from 14 to 15 August between armed factions in Tonga town and neighbouring areas in Panyikang County, Upper Nile State. The escalation in tensions and conflict in Tonga resulted in thousands of people being displaced across several areas between Malakal and Tonga, a 22 August OCHA flash update said. It also led to a reported split within the ranks of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-in-Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) Kit-Gwang faction.
Council members were last briefed on South Sudan on 20 June by Special Representative and head of UNMISS Nicholas Haysom on the Secretary-General’s latest 90-day report on South Sudan. Haysom told the Council that “in the months ahead, what is needed is national leadership, resources and a visible commitment by South Sudan’s leaders to fulfilling their responsibilities under the peace agreement and to taking the necessary steps for the country to exit the transitional period”. OCHA’s Acting Director of the Operations and Advocacy Division, Ghada Eltahir Mudawi, and Lorna Merekaje, a South Sudanese human rights defender, also briefed. Closed consultations followed the briefing. (For more, see our What’s in Blue story of 17 June.)
Human Rights-Related Developments
The Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan conducted its tenth visit to the country from 2 to 5 August to follow up on the findings and recommendations of the commission’s 21 March report on conflict-related sexual violence in South Sudan, among other things (A/HRC/49/CRP.4). The report detailed the widespread and systematic character of sexual violence, drawing on several years of interviews with survivors, witnesses and their families, conducted in South Sudan and also in refugee camps. During their visit, the experts met with government officials; representatives of civil society, UNMISS and the UN; and members of the diplomatic community. They also participated in a day-long dialogue hosted by civil society organisations.
On 17 August, the Panel of Experts presented its work plan to the 2206 South Sudan Sanctions Committee. (The panel was appointed by the Secretary-General on 22 June, following the adoption of resolution 2633 on 26 May, which extended the sanctions regime and the panel’s mandate for one year.)
Key Issues and Options
An ongoing concern for the Council is the significant political challenges in South Sudan related to the delays in implementing the R-ARCSS. A key issue in this regard is what the Council can do to encourage the parties to demonstrate progress towards implementing the outstanding elements of the R-ARCSS, in accordance with the deadlines set out in the roadmap. Another issue for several Council members is the need for the government to engage with civil society and other interested parties in relation to the roadmap and its implementation. The Council could consider adopting a presidential statement urging the parties to implement the roadmap in an inclusive and timely manner.
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.
Most Council members share concerns about the delays in implementing the R-ARCSS, ongoing sub-national and intercommunal violence, high levels of sexual violence, and the economic and humanitarian crises. Members such as Norway, the UK and the US, along with EU members, have had reservations about extending the transitional period for finalising the roadmap, wanting to see the government immediately demonstrate significant progress towards implementing the R-ARCSS in line with the deadlines set out in the roadmap, as expressed in the joint statement of 9 August.
Differences of view on issues such as how to depict the situation on the ground in South Sudan, the extent to which the Council can and should apply pressure on the parties to fully implement the R-ARCSS, the utility of sanctions, and the effects of climate change continue to colour Council dynamics.
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.|
|9 June 2022S/2022/468||This was the 90-day report on South Sudan.|
|Security Council Letter|
|22 June 2022S/2022/508||This was a letter on the appointment of the Panel of Experts.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|20 June 2022S/PV.9067||This was a briefing on South Sudan.|