What's In Blue

Posted Wed 14 Mar 2012

Consultations on South Sudan

Council members are scheduled to hold consultations tomorrow morning (15 March) on the Secretary-General’s recent report on South Sudan (S/2012/140). Hilde Johnson, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on South Sudan and Head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), is expected to brief. It also seems that either, Department of Peacekeeping (DPKO) Head, Hervé Ladsous, or DPKO Assistant Secretary-General, Edmond Mullet, may also brief on the recent negotiations between the parties in Addis Ababa. The format for tomorrow’s briefing represents a departure from the last time the Council considered the report of the Secretary-General on South Sudan in November 2011 At that time, prior to holding consultations, the Council had an open briefing where Johnson, Ladsous and the Ambassadors of Sudan and South Sudan, all addressed the Council.

The inter-communal violence in South Sudan is an area of ongoing concern among Council members and they appear particularly worried about the increasing intensity of the attacks. (On 9 January Council members issued a press statement in which they expressed concern at the violence between the Lou Nuer and the Murle ethnic groups in Jonglei and called for an end to the violence through reconciliation.) The Secretary-General’s report covers in detail the heightened inter-communal violence in recent months, particularly in Jonglei state. It highlights the need to promote national reconciliation and hold perpetrators of such attacks accountable in order to curtail the violence.

Another area that some members appear to be uneasy about is South Sudan’s intention to initiate civilian disarmament in Jonglei state. There seems to be concern that it may be hard to persuade different ethnic groups to disarm given the current unstable security environment. Members may be interested in discussing in more detail the UN’s position that a comprehensive peace process in Jonglei state is an important prelude to voluntary disarmament.

Many members are also concerned by the impact the South Sudanese government’s oil production shut down has had on its economy and on its relationship with Sudan. The Secretary-General’s report indicates that this decision by South Sudan has had a significant negative impact on the country’s economy and made it difficult for South Sudan to deal with humanitarian and security challenges.

Another area that may come up for discussion is how to ensure UNMISS can protect civilians more effectively. In this context the need for civilian helicopters as highlighted by the Secretary-General’s report may be raised.

Another issue addressed in the report which could be covered in Johnson’s briefing is the widespread food insecurity in South Sudan which has been exacerbated by a weak harvest, displacement by violence, and high food prices.

Some members are encouraged by signs of political progress and may want to highlight positive developments covered in the Secretary-General’s report. (These include the establishment of the South Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission in late November 2011 and the creation of a National Constitutional Review Commission in January 2012, as well as the passage by the National Legislative Assembly of a political parties bill in February 2012.)

It is unclear how much of the discussion in tomorrow’s meeting will focus specifically on South Sudan and how much will explore the impact that the strained Sudan-South Sudan relationship has on the new country. Many members appear to be interested in a broader dialogue that looks at both of these issues. Some, however, are concerned that doing this may divert attention from some key issues faced by South Sudan.

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