Consultations on UN Mission in South Sudan
This afternoon (4 November), Council members expect to hold consultations on the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). The meeting was requested by the US, the penholder on South Sudan, and it will focus on security developments since early September. The briefing will be provided by either Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, or the head of UNMISS, Special Representative Ellen Margrethe Løj, via video-teleconference.*
One issue likely to be discussed by members is what can be done to better protect UNMISS personnel and resources in the future, in light of the seizure on 26 October by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition of a barge that was transporting fuel to an UNMISS base in Renk, Upper Nile State. Eighteen UNMISS peacekeepers, including military liaison officers, were detained until their release on 29 October, while an additional 13 UN contractors were not set free until 1 November. Fuel, communications equipment, an inflatable boat, and a small number of UNMISS weapons were confiscated during the incident. While all UN staff have been set free, there may be some questions about efforts to recover the confiscated fuel and equipment.
More broadly, concerns will probably be raised about the wider security situation in South Sudan since the signing of the peace agreement in August. There continue to be reports of ceasefire violations in Unity and Upper Nile States. On 3 November—the same day the parties signed an agreement in Addis Ababa on security arrangements for Juba, South Sudan’s capital city—the SPLA in Opposition alleged that government troops had attacked their positions in Upper Nile state over the prior two days. Members may want input from Ladsous or Løj on causes of the recent violence. Council members will also be interested in an assessment of the tenor and substance of the recent talks in Addis Ababa; Løj would be well-placed to provide such input as she was in Addis Ababa during the negotiations.
While it does not seem that the recently released AU Commission of Inquiry Report on South Sudan will be a focus of the meeting, some members may nonetheless wish to mention the report and discuss how its findings can be relevant to the Council’s work on South Sudan. The report found that both sides had violated human rights and committed crimes against humanity.
Moving forward, the Council will be heavily engaged on South Sudan issues in the coming weeks. By 23 November, it expects to receive from the Secretariat a report with an assessment and recommendations on how the mission can best be structured and resourced to support implementation of the peace agreement. This report will be used by the Council to inform its consideration of the UNMISS mandate, which needs to be reauthorised prior to its 15 December expiration.
*Post-script: Løj and Assistant-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet participated in the meeting. Ladsous was not present. The Council agreed on elements to the press that welcomed the agreement of security arrangements in Juba and the release of the report of the AU Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan, while expressing deep concern over continued fighting in Unity and Upper-Nile states.