What's In Blue

Posted Fri 27 Jan 2012

Consultations on UN Force Level Numbers in South Sudan

Council members will hold consultations on Monday (30 January) on the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), with Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous set to brief. It seems the consultations will focus on the force level of the mission. In resolution 1996, which established UNMISS in July 2011, the Council expressed its intention to review the force level of the mission after three months (October 2011) and after six months (January 2012) to determine whether conditions allowed for the number of military personnel to be reduced from a maximum of 7,000 to 6,000. At present, there are approximately 5,500 uniformed personnel on the ground.

The October 2011 meeting to discuss the force level was scheduled but eventually cancelled. Although the Council discussed the UNMISS force level briefly in November, its focus on this issue was largely overshadowed by its intensive engagement on a variety of other Sudan- and South Sudan-related matters.

It seems several Council members consider that the variety of security challenges in South Sudan requires UNMISS’s maximum force level to remain at 7,000, especially in light of the recent inter-communal violence in Jonglei state. In past months some members have suggested that it might be possible to decrease the force level, largely because of the need to maximise resources and cut costs at a time of financial austerity. (Approximately one-third of all UN uniformed personnel on the ground serve in peace operations in Sudan and South Sudan.) However, given the current situation, it appears that even these members are unlikely to push for a reduction at this point.

Council members who are keen to eventually see a troop reduction are likely to be interested in receiving from Ladsous on Monday a clear assessment of—and justification for—the force level of the mission.

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