What's In Blue

UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS): Vote on Mandate Renewal Resolution*

Tomorrow morning (14 March), the Security Council is expected to vote on a draft resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) until 30 April. The draft text was authored by the US, the penholder on South Sudan.

The short draft text in blue is a technical rollover that extends the measures contained in resolution 2677 of 15 March 2023, which last renewed UNMISS’ mandate, and authorises the mission to use all necessary means to carry out its tasks. (The term “technical rollover” is commonly used by diplomats to describe a concise resolution extending a peace operation’s mandate without altering its core mandate or tasks. It traditionally denotes an extension for a shorter period than is customary.)

The US circulated an initial draft of the resolution to all Council members on 26 February and then convened one round of negotiations on 1 March. It appears that during this round, the penholder’s suggestion for a technical rollover of UNMISS’ mandate received broad support from Council members. The US therefore placed the same draft text under silence procedure on 4 March until the next day. The draft text passed silence and was subsequently put in blue on 7 March.

This year’s mandate renewal comes at a critical juncture, as South Sudan prepares for its first post-independence elections. On 4 August 2022, all signatories to the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) agreed to a roadmap extending the transitional period by 24 months to implement its key outstanding tasks. The original transitional period agreed to in the R-ARCSS ended on 22 February 2023, while the extended transition period is scheduled to end on 22 February 2025. National elections are planned for December 2024.

The Secretary-General’s most recent report on South Sudan, dated 26 February, noted that implementation of critical benchmarks outlined in the R-ARCSS, necessary for the holding of elections in December 2024, remains behind schedule. Key issues that are yet to be determined include: the constitution-making process, the type and number of elections, the electoral timeline, voter registration modalities, an integrated election security plan, and an election dispute resolution mechanism. In this regard, the Secretary-General’s report noted that “an assessment as to whether a critical mass of compliance has been achieved will be made in April 2024”. (For more information and background, see the brief on South Sudan in our March 2024 Monthly Forecast and 4 March What’s in Blue story.)

In suggesting a technical rollover, the US apparently sought to allow the Council sufficient time to review the conclusions of the UN Secretariat’s assessment regarding South Sudan’s election preparedness and then to have a substantial discussion on UNMISS’ mandate renewal, especially on the mandate’s technical electoral assistance component. Among other things, UNMISS is tasked under its current mandate to:

On 27 February, the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) considered the situation in South Sudan in the context of preparations for national elections. During the meeting, the AUPSC urged the South Sudanese government to intensify resource mobilisation to ensure a smooth electoral process; stressed the need to expedite implementation of outstanding transitional tasks; and emphasised the importance of comprehensive Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) and Security Sector Reform (SSR) programmes, among other things.

On 5 March, Security Council members convened for an open briefing, followed by closed consultations, on the situation in South Sudan. Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix briefed in the open session, emphasising in his remarks the need for political will, systematic planning, and ensuring adequate resources for realising the aspirations of the South Sudanese people regarding elections. He added that “political competition amongst the ruling elite, increased inter-communal clashes and the added strain inflicted by the influx of returnees and refugees escaping the conflict in Sudan have all combined towards an assessment that elections, when held, are going to take place in an environment of elevated tensions and a constrained civic and political space in the country”.

During the closed consultations, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for South Sudan and Head of UNMISS Nicholas Haysom apparently said that, while the four core elements of UNMISS’ mandate remain relevant in the current circumstances, the demands and expectations of the mission have expanded over time. (The four key elements of UNMISS’ mandate are: protection of civilians; creating the conditions conducive to the delivery of humanitarian assistance; supporting the implementation of R-ARCSS and the peace process; and monitoring, investigating, and reporting on violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights.) It seems that Haysom further said that UNMISS’ mandate renewal provides an opportunity to adopt a strategic and resource-informed approach that recognises the need for having adequate capacity in place ahead of the envisioned elections and to support a peaceful exit from South Sudan’s transitional phase.


Post-script: On 14 March, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2726, renewing the mandate of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) until 30 April 2024.

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