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UNMISS trains civil society activists and journalists on human rights ahead of elections next year

An UNMISS-organized training for media and civil society members in Jonglei state sought to reinforce their vital role in shaping a brighter, more prosperous future for all. Photo by Mach Samuel/UNMISS.

JONGLEI – It is expected that South Sudan’s first-ever national elections will be held in December 2024.The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), as a partner for peace, continues to support this young country in its long delayed democratic transition. Much of this support translates into building capacities of local actors, including civil society representatives, a necessity to ensure every citizen is well-informed and fully included in ongoing peace processes, including the drafting of South Sudan’s permanent constitution. An example: The UN Peacekeeping mission’s Human Rights Division recently organized a three-day training for 30 representatives from local media outlets and civil society activists in Jonglei state.The aim: To clarify their understanding of the crucial role they play in upholding the rights and dignity of every citizen as well as shaping a brighter, more prosperous future.“We are going through a critical phase in our history as a nation, and we should consolidate our efforts to achieve peaceful elections which are a necessary prerequisite for South Sudan to achieve long-term peace and progress,” said Bol Geu Puch, a participant.Another participant, Sarah Achan Abot said she believed that it was equally important to educate people about their right to take part in the political life of the nation.“We should not allow ourselves to be corrupted and focus on our dreams to develop our country rather than engage in conflicts,” stated Sarah in her capacity as a civil society representative.For his part, John Samuel Manyuon, Jonglei State Cabinet Affairs Minister, stressed that building a rights-based society is vital for the welfare of all communities.“A stable state is what we are looking forward to where upholding human rights is incorporated in our traditions and laws,” declared Minister Manyuon.The event concluded with a simple endorsement of the need for political participation by Geetha Pious, Head of the UN Peacekeeping mission’s Field Office in the state. “Civil society and media are vital in monitoring human rights violations and helping the people of South Sudan smoothly transition to greater levels of civic and political engagement,” she averred. “Public participation is, after all, the lifeblood of a true democracy.”