South Sudan: Briefing and Consultations
Tomorrow (18 December), the Security Council is scheduled to receive a briefing from Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix on the Secretary-General’s 90-day report on South Sudan (S/2018/1103). Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Pramila Patten may also brief via VTC. Ambassador Joanna Wronecka of Poland, the chair of the 2206 South Sudan Sanctions Committee, will also brief on the work of the Committee. Council members will hold consultations following the briefing.
UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Briefing
Lacroix will brief the Council on the Secretary-General’s 90-day report covering 2 September to 30 November, submitted in accordance with resolution 2406. His briefing is likely to address the security, political, humanitarian and human rights conditions in the country since the signing of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) on 12 September in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
On the security situation, Lacroix is likely to note that there are indications that the permanent ceasefire agreed by the parties on 27 June in Khartoum has taken hold across most of the country, although the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) has verified localised sporadic fighting between the government and opposition forces and between opposition groups in the Yei area, Central Equatoria; the Wau triangle area in Western Bahr el-Ghazal and Koch, Unity. This mixed view is consistent with the recent report of the Secretary-General, which observed that while “the overall scale and frequency of clashes remained low, fighting between warring parties, intercommunal violence and cattle-raiding, especially in Lakes and Jonglei, remained a cause of civilian casualties, displacement, abductions and looting.”
On the political situation, Lacroix may commend the signing of the R-ARCSS, while calling for its full and timely implementation. The R-ARCSS stipulates an eight-month pre-transitional period to be followed by a transitional period of 36 months, with elections to take place 60 days before the end of the transitional period. He may underscore that the Secretary-General’s report calls for the achievement of two benchmarks during the pre-transitional period: the establishment of the revised transitional security arrangements and the formation of the revitalised transitional government of national unity. In this respect, the report maintains that urgent compromises are needed to find a comprehensive and realistic agreement on the cantonment and integration of forces and on the necessary security arrangements to support implementation of the R-ARCSS. Failing to do so “cannot be compensated for by the deployment of additional forces to the UNMISS regional protection force and needs to be addressed politically”, the report says. Council members may be interested to receive further details on Lacroix’s assessment of the 22 November decision of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Chiefs of Defence Staff/Forces to formalise its recommendation to integrate forces from Djibouti, Somalia, the Sudan and Uganda into UNMISS’ Regional Protection Force. It seems that a letter containing these recommendations is expected to be transmitted directly to both the Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council soon.
In addressing the human rights situation, Lacroix may reference an overall decline in the number of reported human rights violations and abuses following the signing of the R-ARCSS, as stated in the Secretary-General’s report, but note that access restrictions continued to hinder UNMISS’ ability to investigate alleged human rights violations and abuses. He may emphasise that the humanitarian situation remains grave. According to the Secretary-General’s report, at the end of October, 1.97 million people were internally displaced and 2.5 million were seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. An estimated 6.1 million people, or 59 percent of the population, were severely food insecure at the peak of the lean season (July–August), and violence against humanitarian workers and assets continued to impede the delivery of humanitarian assistance during the reporting period. Lacroix may also refer to the World Health Organisation’s designation of South Sudan as being at “very high risk” of Ebola. On 31 July, an Ebola virus outbreak was declared in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. The UN, including UNMISS and agencies, has developed a preparedness and contingency planning process to mitigate risks and support national efforts in South Sudan.
Council members may also be interested in hearing about the status of investigations into recent incidents of sexual and gender-based violence against women near Bentiu in northern South Sudan. According to a 3 December UNMISS press release, approximately 125 women and girls sought medical treatment after having been raped or sexually assaulted by armed men in military and civilian clothing in a ten-day period as they walked along roads on their way to Bentiu. The attacks took place in an area under government control, the press release said. On 7 December, the Council issued a press statement condemning the attacks and calling for accountability (SC/13611). The statement also reiterated the Council’s willingness to impose targeted sanctions against individuals or entities responsible and called for the establishment of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan and the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing in accordance with Chapter 5 of the R-ARCSS. The Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, mandated by the Human Rights Council, was in South Sudan earlier this month investigating these violations, and will report its findings to the Human Rights Council in March.
Ambassador Wronecka is expected to provide a briefing on the work of the 2206 South Sudan Sanctions Committee, including on the main conclusions and recommendations of the interim report of the Panel of Experts dated 26 November (S/2018/1049). Among other things, the report recommended that the Committee: produce and post on its website “an Implementation Assistance Notice to Member States to aid them in carrying out the arms embargo”, issue a press release “reiterating the obligations of all Member States to enforce the travel ban and asset freeze measures” on designated individuals, and urge the immediate release of child soldiers. Wronecka may further refer to the 24 October briefing to the Committee by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten. According to a press release on the meeting, Patten told the Committee that sexual violence remained rampant in South Sudan and was used as part of a strategy to degrade, shame and humiliate victims and communities, often along ethnic and/or political lines (SC/13593). On 15 November, the Committee was briefed by the Coordinator of the Panel of Experts on the interim report, which said that while it is too early to assess the full impact of the arms embargo imposed by resolution 2428 on 13 July, “a number of violations have been noted”. In this regard, the report observed that Sudan had deployed troops to protect oil fields in Unity State, while Uganda had sent forces to Central and Eastern Equatoria regions. The report further referred to “alarming levels of sexual and gender-based violence, food insecurity and grave human rights abuses, including against children.”