What's In Blue

Posted Wed 13 Dec 2017

UN Mission in South Sudan Mandate Renewal and Adoption of Presidential Statement*

Tomorrow (14 December), the Security Council is scheduled to vote on a draft resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and reauthorising the Regional Protection Force (RPF), for an additional three months, before their 15 December expiration. At press time, the Council was also a negotiating a presidential statement on the situation in South Sudan but it was unclear if it would be adopted tomorrow as there were still outstanding issues.


The US, the penholder on South Sudan, circulated the preliminary draft to the full Council on 11 December. It applies a technical rollover of three months to allow for the completion of the UNMISS strategic review currently underway and consideration by Council members of its recommendations. At the initiative of the Secretary-General, the strategic review began in mid-November, as one among several comprehensive reviews of peacekeeping operations. An integrated review team recently visited South Sudan’s capital city of Juba and more remote parts of the country to consider the security and humanitarian situations and to consult with a wide range of actors, including the government, the international and humanitarian communities, and UNMISS. The team also travelled to Addis Ababa, where it met with other South Sudanese groups, including the opposition, as well as with AU and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) actors. The review team will report back to the Secretary-General, who is expected to submit a report early next year to the Security Council summarising its findings. The Secretary-General’s most recent UNMISS report recommended that the mission’s current mandate be extended for two months in light of the strategic review (S/2017/1011).

On 7 December, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix told the Council that in a challenging environment UNMISS had endeavoured to be more robust, nimble and proactive; had helped protect humanitarian facilities, facilitated aid delivery and evacuated humanitarian personnel; and had intervened to protect civilians from abduction, recruitment, sexual violence and harassment. He added that mission patrols had reached areas where they had long been denied access (S/PV.8124). Following the briefing, Uruguay and Bolivia made statements referring to the mandate renewal. Bolivia voiced its support for a short-term extension in light of the strategic review and the hope that, with progress in the deployment of the RPF, it will be possible to extend and guarantee a more robust presence for UNMISS patrols in areas of major conflict, such as the Equatorias, the Bahr el-Ghazal region and Upper Nile. Uruguay expressed confidence that the conclusions of the strategic review “will enable the Security Council to take a responsible decision on the future of the mission.”

Although last year’s resolution renewing UNMISS’s mandate was adopted unanimously, following a one-day technical rollover in an effort to obtain full support, the previous three resolutions were adopted without unanimity. However, Council members appear to support adopting a technical rollover at this time in anticipation of receiving the findings of the strategic review, which will inform their discussions on the mandate early next year.

Draft Presidential Statement

A draft presidential statement was circulated by the US, the penholder on South Sudan, on Monday (11 December) with a revised version circulated today (13 December). During consultations following the 7 December briefing, most members were in favour of the adoption of a presidential statement, given the dire situation in South Sudan and the desire to express support for the efforts of IGAD to revitalise the political process. The fact that the Council is only adopting a technical rollover of the UNMISS mandate at this time appears to have given further impetus to having a presidential statement.

It appears that the draft statement seeks to build upon the presidential statement adopted on 23 March (S/PRST/2017/4) and in particular to emphasise the Council’s common position in support of IGAD’s upcoming high-level revitalisation forum, scheduled to take place between 18 and 22 December in Addis Ababa. The Council has so far been unable to adopt an outcome on the political process and IGAD’s efforts, after attempts to do so failed in October, including apparently over opposition to references made to the AU Peace and Security Council’s 20 September communiqué. This stated that if the parties continue to delay the full implementation of the August 2015 peace agreement, the PSC “will consider the necessary steps, including sanction measures [sic], that could ensure effective and efficient implementation of the [peace agreement]…bearing in mind the assessment reports of the IGAD-led revitalisation process”. It seems that the main differences that have affected negotiations on the current draft presidential statement regard language on potential consequences for undermining the peace process.

There is widespread concern about the political and humanitarian situation in South Sudan and general support among Council members for IGAD’s efforts to revitalise the peace process. However, there has been a longstanding divide on whether to impose an arms embargo and further targeted sanctions in an effort to exert leverage on the parties. From the statements of all 15 Council members during the 28 November briefing on South Sudan it is clear that these differences have not been bridged (S/PV.8115).

* Postscript (14 December): The Council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2017/25) apparently resolving differences over language on potential consequences for undermining the peace process by stating “there must be cost and consequences for those who undermine” IGAD’s high-level revitalisation process; taking note of the AU PSC communique of 20 September; and agreeing that the high-level revitalisation forum is “a last chance for the parties to achieve sustainable peace and stability in South Sudan” .