What's In Blue

South Sudan Consultations and Human Rights Briefing

Tomorrow (3 July), Council members are scheduled to meet in consultations to discuss the Secretary-General’s 26 June report (S/2012/486) on the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS). Hilde Johnson, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for UNMISS, is set to brief. Also on Tuesday, in a separate session, Council members will hear from Navi Pillay—the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights—on the human rights situation in Sudan and South Sudan.

During the UNMISS consultations, Council members will consider the renewal of the mission’s mandate, which expires on 9 July. Negotiations on the mandate renewal began this morning (2 July) at expert level and are likely to take place again tomorrow in anticipation of a possible adoption on Thursday (5 July). It seems that Council members are still discussing some elements of the draft resolution, although there is consensus that the mission will be renewed for a further year.

One development which will likely impact tomorrow’s discussions is the 13 June letter (S/2012/429) from the Vice-President of South Sudan requesting that UNMISS’s Chapter VII mandate be withdrawn. (The letter contends that the principal threats to international peace and security in South Sudan now relate to military actions taken by Sudan and by unresolved issues from the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. It also notes that the determination that the “situation faced by South Sudan continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region” was made prior to its declaration of independence and the situation has now progressed.)

While Council members seem receptive to input from the host country of the mission, it appears that most prefer that UNMISS maintain its Chapter VII mandate, given the significant intercommunal violence in Jonglei. (Renewing the mandate under Chapter VII for a further year would also be in accordance with the Secretary-General’s recommendation in his recent report.)

Following the Special Representative’s briefing, Council members are likely to be interested in discussing a number of critical issues, including the ongoing constitutional review process in South Sudan; the disarmament process in Jonglei; and the humanitarian challenges presented by the country’s economic crisis and by the influx of refugees and returnees from Sudan. (The Secretary-General’s report notes the “significant challenges” South Sudan faces following the shutdown of oil production and the resultant loss of 98 percent of the country’s income.) Another issue which may arise tomorrow is UNMISS’s protection of civilians mandate and the way it is being implemented, particularly with respect to Jonglei.

Concerning Pillay’s human rights briefing on the situation in Sudan and South Sudan, it seems she may raise concerns covering a broad number of regions in both countries. It is likely the High Commissioner will provide Council members with an update on the situation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, where conflict between Sudan and the rebels has led to civilian suffering. Arbitrary arrests and sexual violence continue to be a challenge in Darfur and seem likely to be raised.

It is possible that there may also be some discussion of alleged human rights violations related to the recent protests in Khartoum and elsewhere in Sudan. It seems Council members are likely to have differing views on the extent to which this issue should be discussed by the Security Council (as well as how the Council should react), but the closed consultations may be seen by some as an opportunity to question Pillay on the matter.

With regard to South Sudan, Pillay is likely to raise the human rights violations committed during the significant intercommunal conflict that has occurred, particularly in Jonglei State, during recent months. It is possible that she will refer to the findings of a 25 June report that UNMISS—assisted by the UN High Commission for Human Rights—prepared on this issue entitled “Incidents of Inter-Communal Violence in Jonglei State.” There may also be interest among Council members in learning more about allegations of human rights violations committed by Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers (i.e. government troops) during the disarmament campaign in Jonglei.

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