South Sudan: Briefing and Consultations
On Monday (20 June), the Security Council will hold an open briefing on South Sudan. Special Representative and head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Nicholas Haysom will brief on the Secretary-General’s latest 90-day report on South Sudan, which was issued on 9 June (S/2022/468). OCHA’s Acting Director of the Operations and Advocacy Division Ghada Eltahir Mudawi and a civil society representative will also brief. Closed consultations are scheduled to follow the briefing.
The implementation of the 2018 Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS)—which remains slow, selective and significantly behind schedule—is an expected focus of Monday’s meeting. As noted in the Secretary-General’s report, “in the absence of tangible progress, the peace agreement bears the risk of being afflicted by a cycle of extensions”. Most Council members are likely to reiterate calls for the parties to accelerate the implementation of the R-ARCSS, particularly in relation to transitional security arrangements and in light of the end of the transitional period in February 2023.
At Monday’s briefing, Haysom may refer to some positive developments in the implementation of the R-ARCSS in recent months, such as the swearing-in of all state assemblies. He might also note the 3 April agreement between the government, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition and the South Sudan Opposition Alliance on the implementation of transitional security arrangements, including in relation to a unified command-and-control structure that will oversee the 83,000 Necessary Unified Forces (NUF) once they graduate. However, Haysom may note that the 3 June deadline to graduate the first group of NUF forces was not met. He might also refer to progress on the implementation of Chapter V of the R-ARCSS regarding the Commission for Truth Reconciliation and Healing (CTRH), including that the public consultation process began in early May with the dispatch of members from the technical committee of the Commission to different states, as noted in the Secretary-General’s report. (The three transitional justice mechanisms agreed to in the R-ARCSS—the CTRH, the Hybrid Court and the Compensation and Reparation Authority—have yet to be established.)
Haysom is likely to express concern, reflected in the Secretary-General’s report, that the parties have not agreed on a date for elections. He may note the recent mandate extension of the National Constitutional Amendment Committee (NCAC) and the passing of the Political Parties (Amendment) Bill by parliament: the resumption of the NCAC’s activities allows for the review of the National Elections Act of 2012, which will provide the legislative framework for launching the electoral process, including the reconstitution of the National Elections Commission. The Secretary-General’s report says that “the UN stands ready to provide necessary support to the process, should the government request such assistance”.
At Monday’s briefing, Haysom may reiterate his call on the parties to urgently address four main concerns, that he outlined in a 2 June statement at a plenary meeting of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC), which is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the R-ARCSS. In his statement, he called on the parties to pass the Constitutional-Making Process Bill; graduate the first batch of NUF forces and progress the 3 April agreement; work with the NCAC to expediate the National Elections Bill process; and agree on a roadmap to exit the transitional period through the holding of free, fair and peaceful elections.
The security situation in South Sudan is another expected focus of Monday’s meeting. Haysom may highlight that while there was a 32 percent decrease in violent incidents documented during the period covered by the Secretary-General’s recent report, compared with the same period in 2021, there has been a resurgence of subnational violence, particularly in Eastern Equatoria, Unity, Warrap, and Jonglei States, that has resulted in the loss of lives, destruction of property, and widespread displacement. He is likely to express concern at “the significant increase in gender-based violence, including conflict-related sexual violence incidents”, as reflected in the Secretary-General’s report.
On the humanitarian situation, Mudawi is expected to inform the Council that the situation remains dire. As noted in the Secretary-General’s report, “the uptick in violence, along with the impact of climate change in the form of extreme weather patterns, has exacerbated the living conditions of the people” and “displacements and food insecurity have reached unprecedented levels”. Food insecurity is expected to increase by seven percent across South Sudan, compared with 2021, the report says. She may refer to the 31 March launch of the South Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan for 2022, which seeks $1.7 billion. An estimated 8.9 million people—including two million women—who constitute more than two thirds of South Sudan’s population, have significant humanitarian needs, according to the report.
Mudawi is likely to express concern over “the trend of increased attacks on humanitarian workers and assets”, including the death of four humanitarian workers this year and the looting of hundreds of tons of food and life-saving supplies, as described in the Secretary-General’s report. She may also inform the Council of the 28 April decision of South Sudan’s Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management requiring staff members of the UN and other non-governmental organisations to provide additional documents, including academic certificates authenticated by the Ministry of Higher Education, which has “resulted in the impediment of critical operations”, according to the report.
Council members remain concerned about the delays in implementing the R-ARCSS, ongoing intercommunal violence, high levels of sexual violence and the economic and humanitarian crises. Differences of view on issues such as how to depict the situation on the ground in South Sudan, the utility of sanctions and the effects of climate change continue to influence Council dynamics, as they have in previous years.
Sanctions on South Sudan remain a divisive issue in the Council. Negotiations last month on renewing the sanctions regime were once again very difficult. On 26 May, the Security Council adopted resolution 2633, renewing the South Sudan sanctions regime until 1 July 2023 by a vote of ten in favour and five abstentions from China, Gabon, India, Kenya, and Russia. (For more information, see our 25 May What’s in Blue story.)