What's In Blue

Posted Wed 27 May 2015

Resolution Renewing Mandate of UN Mission in South Sudan

Tomorrow (28 May), the Council is scheduled to vote on a resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), which is due to expire on 30 May. Following three rounds of negotiations last week, the US put the draft resolution under a silence procedure last night. After silence was broken earlier today by a permanent member regarding language on accountability, the draft resolution passed a second silence procedure this afternoon.

As recommended in the 29 April report of the Secretary-General, the draft resolution renews the mandate of UNMISS for a period of six months. The force structure of UNMISS is also unchanged with authorisation of 12,500 troops and 1,323 police. While generally following the Secretary-General’s recommendation to extend the mandate of UNMISS “without major changes”, the draft resolution includes updates to reflect current events in South Sudan and developments in the Council, including resolution 2206 establishing a sanctions regime for South Sudan, along with other new content proposed by either the penholder or the Secretariat.

Proposals regarding new language on accountability were among the most contentious during the negotiations. During the initial negotiations, an African elected member objected to a reference to the AU Commission of Inquiry (CoI) in a preambular paragraph, particularly in relation to the Council anticipating the public release of its final report. The objection was backed by two permanent members and two other elected members despite the language being very closely drawn from the presidential statement by the Council on 24 March. There was also an objection by one permanent member regarding new language on accountability in an operative paragraph which would expand the role of UNMISS from providing coordination and technical support to the AU CoI to also include a broader mandate to “facilitate efforts to advance accountability”. This clause was eventually removed from the text.

The inclusion of new language regarding sanctions was a subject of significant discussion during negotiations. Initially, it seems that two permanent members and three elected members generally opposed the inclusion of sanctions-related language, arguing that it was inappropriate for a resolution on peacekeeping. Council members were able to reach agreement on language requesting UNMISS to assist the 2206 South Sudan Sanctions Committee and the Panel of Experts. While language urging other actors to ensure safety and unhindered access for the Panel of Experts remained a subject of further debate, it was ultimately included in the draft resolution. Finally, the draft resolution includes an operative paragraph referencing designation criteria established in resolution 2206, particularly paragraph 7(g) regarding attacks against UN missions, international security presences, peacekeeping operations and humanitarian personnel. The paragraph represents a compromise making reference to the designation criteria within the context of “attacks” rather than earlier proposed language with a wider scope such as “actions” or “policies”.

Some Council members apparently had reservations regarding new language proposed by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations requesting the Secretary-General through his Special Representative to undertake a specific good offices role, in engaging with the parties and regional stakeholders to support negotiations and uphold the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement in order to further the protection of civilians and encourage the signature of a comprehensive peace agreement. Council members had concerns over the potential implications for UNMISS’s peacekeeping operations if the Special Representative were given an explicit political role in mediation. The compromise language, apparently proposed by the penholder, was a general reference to support for “the use of UN good offices” to engage with the parties and other stakeholders.

Regarding UNMISS’s mandate for the protection of civilians, some Council members had objections to retaining language from resolution 2187 with respect to the mission’s “specific operational coordination” with the police services for protection-related activities, including sensitisation to issues of sexual and gender-based violence. These members seem to have objected on the grounds that it could imply some form of UNMISS capacity building for the government, which they currently oppose. A compromise was found through the deletion of “specific operational” while retaining “coordination” and adding a new reference to civil society actors.

Sign up for What's In Blue emails