What's In Blue

South Sudan: Briefing and consultations on UN Mission in South Sudan

On Monday (21 June), the Security Council will convene in person for an open briefing on the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the Secretary-General’s most recent 90-day report on South Sudan (S/2021/566). Special Representative and head of UNMISS Nicholas Haysom is expected to brief the Council for the first time since taking up the role in April. A representative of a civil society organisation is also expected to brief. Consultations will follow the briefing.

On 9 July, South Sudan will mark ten years of independence. Slow and selective implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) continues to contribute to uncertainty around the peace process while the dire human rights, humanitarian, food security, and economic conditions in the country continue to adversely affect civilians.

The political and security situations in the country are likely to be discussed at Monday’s meeting. Haysom may welcome the reconstitution of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly in May, while calling for its operationalisation. He might note that the gender balance of appointments fell below the 35 percent quota for women as required under the R-ARCSS. Haysom may emphasise the urgent need to implement key outstanding provisions of the R-ARCSS, including the establishment of a unified command structure for the military and the training and deployment of the Necessary Unified Forces.

At a 3 June press conference in Juba, Haysom expressed firm commitment to supporting the peace process, while emphasising that it must be led and owned by the people of South Sudan. He said that the mission’s priorities are to provide technical assistance to build the capacity of local institutions; reform the security and justice sectors; and advance important elements such as constitution-making and, ultimately, free and fair elections. At Monday’s meeting, Haysom may note that the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (RJMEC), which is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the R-ARCSS, facilitated a workshop from 25 to 27 May on the first permanent constitution-making process. In relation to election preparations, resolution 2567 of 12 March, which extended the mandate of UNMISS for one year, requested the Secretary-General to provide the Council with a needs assessment, including on security, procedural and logistical requirements to create an enabling environment for elections by 15 July.

On the security situation, Haysom may inform the Council that there was a 32 percent increase in security incidents compared with the previous four-month period (between October 2020 and January 2021), as instances of localised violence increased in many parts of South Sudan, according to the Secretary-General’s report. In this regard, he may refer to fighting in Akoka and Maban, Upper Nile, and a surge in violence in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area during the reporting period. At the 3 June press conference, Haysom said that the mission is repositioning its military peacekeepers to take a more nimble, robust and proactive approach to the protection of civilians and is deploying troops to conflict hotspots, setting up temporary bases, and intensifying patrols to deter conflict.

In relation to the humanitarian situation, Haysom may highlight that South Sudan is facing the highest levels of food insecurity and malnutrition since its independence, according to the Secretary-General’s report. Approximately 7.2 million people, or 60 percent of the population, are estimated to face high levels of food insecurity between April and July, with 108,000 people facing catastrophic such levels. According to OCHA’s May Humanitarian Snapshot, sub-national violence in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area affected tens of thousands of people and severely obstructed response operations in the area. It further states that homes and humanitarian facilities were looted and burnt down, and an estimated 20,000 people were temporarily displaced, following the violence there in May. Haysom may also note that reports of threats and violence against humanitarian workers and assets across the country continue.

Resolution 2567 presented a strategic direction for UNMISS by including a new paragraph deciding that the mission will advance a three-year strategic vision to prevent a return to civil war, build durable peace and support elections. (For more details, see our What’s in Blue story of 11 March). Council Members may be particularly interested in hearing further details from Haysom regarding the steps the mission is expected to take in this regard.

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