Chairperson and Ambassador of the Republic of Namibia,
Members of the Peace and Security Council,
Representative of South Sudan, my brother James Morgan
I thank you for the invitation to brief this Council on the situation in South Sudan and in particular allowing me to jump the queue so I can close, with the President of South Sudan, the sitting of the Governors Forum. Mr Cong will remain for any questions if the members of the Council have them.
As you noted, there have been some significant developments since our last update. This includes the consensus of the parties to the Revitalized Peace Agreement on a Roadmap to extend the transitional period to February 2025, and that agreement’s ratification
The wheels of parliament are now turning. The TNLA has passed essential bills, including the Constitution Making Bill. I particularly welcome President Salva Kiir’s directive that parliamentarians continue working until critical legislation underpinning the Roadmap is passed, rather than taking an early recess.
I welcome the graduation of the first phase of the Necessary Unified Forces that is the integrated forces – with only Bentiu remaining. “Phase two” must receive adequate logistical and political support. It’s essential that deployment plans are finalized and implemented so that the force can begin to protect civilians and contribute to intercommunal harmony.
We continue to follow developments relating to the Sant ’Egidio process and urge all parties to embrace dialogue to advance their interests and resolve the current impasse.
Implementation of the Roadmap requires funding. We encourage the Transitional Government to allocate the necessary resources and UNMISS continues to remind the parties that further donor support, in particular, will be contingent upon their making effective and timely implementation of the benchmarks.
On that note, UNMISS is mindful that preparations for elections need to start soon. The National Constitutional Amendment Committee (NCAC) has completed its review of the National Elections Act. This is the first step in providing the legal basis for the reconstitution of the National Elections Commission (NEC) which will be the sole custodian for all electoral processes. While I applaud progress of the NCAC in considering this Act, I note that the issue of implementation of quotas of women, youth and persons with disabilities has been left unsettled. I urge a compromise solution so that this legislation can be finalised.
Further to this, I note with concern that deadlines related to the Political Parties Council, the Reconstituted National Constitutional Review Commission (RNCRC), and establishment of the Constitutional Drafting Committee (CDC) have been missed. We want to urge the South Sudanese that the two-year extension should not be regarded as a holiday break, and that delays are already having a domino impact on subsequent processes.
That is why, at the request of your Council, the United Nations, the AU Mission in South Sudan (AUMISS), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and with the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC) have formed a Trilateral Task force on Permanent Constitution-Making and Electoral Processes Support. We are developing a tracking mechanism to better target our advocacy and our support to the parties. I want to thank my brother, Ambassador Joram Biswaro, for his close support and collaboration.
We hope that the permanent constitution-making process can start without further delay. This is the foundation of a new social contract between the government and its citizens, and as between its citizens. I note that the Peace Agreement prescribes civic and voter education on both the constitution making and electoral processes and we look forward to an eventual roll-out of civic education, political engagement, and creation of an enabling environment for healthy national debates. UNMISS stands ready to support the government in this regard.
Subnational violence continues to drive a humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, with next year’s projections estimating 9.4 million people in need of lifesaving, and in particular food assistance. This represents a significant increase of almost half a million people compared to the estimates in 2022. The situation is made worse by collective challenges like climate and flooding. While humanitarian personnel are working tirelessly to offer shelter, health care, food, water, and sanitation support, needs continue to outstrip the resources to respond.
During my recent engagements with government officials, they’ve been asking for more direct support to facilitate a transition from humanitarian to development assistance, and a more self-reliant pathway for South Sudan.
The 6th Governors Forum, held as we speak in Juba, provided a platform for officials to exchange views on these and other ideas around a shared future for a peaceful and prosperous South Sudan. I congratulate the Transitional Government of National Unity for fostering a lively and constructive debate, and urge the further inclusion of civil society voices in the next round.
UNMISS took advantage of this platform to support direct dialogues between governors on cross-border security issues, particularly the ethnic fracturing, clashes and displacement in northern Jonglei and Upper Nile, intercommunal violence around the Abyei area, and ongoing cattle-raiding and migration-related conflicts around the Equatorias.
In that same Forum, I raised our concerns at the increasing militarization of the Nile River. UNMISS will be calling on all actors to respect this national asset as a sacred highway for humanitarian assistance and sustainable economic development. Applicable national and international laws should be used to deter actors from extortion and abuse.
UNMISS views the extension, and the Roadmap, as a second mortgage on the Revitalized Peace Agreement—one which must be repaid in good faith and within the timeframes stipulated. As moral guarantors and partners of that Agreement, our task is to ensure that the parties have the best possible opportunity to fulfil their commitment to the people of South Sudan.
So, the next two years will require close engagement from all partner institutions. We can strengthen our contribution to the peace process by leveraging our respective comparative advantages. In this regard, we welcome the Council’s January 2022 Communique on the need to reactivate the AU Ad-hoc High-Level Committee, referred to by Commissioner Bankole as the C5, and look forward to its pledged visit to Juba at Ministerial level.
In closing, let me reaffirm that UNMISS is committed to working with you and we support the South Sudanese people in achieving a lasting peace.