Peace dividend palpable in South Sudan, but ‘grassroots’ are moving faster than elites, says Shearer

UNMISS/Isaac Billy A government soldier leaves a school in Kodok, South Sudan, which had been used to accommodate the South Sudan People Defense Forces. (May 2019)

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


The peace dividend from last year’s ceasefire in South Sudan is palpable, but political elites need to follow the example set by local communities on the ground if lasting progress is to be achieved, said the top UN official in the country on Tuesday.

Special Representative and head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), David Shearer, was briefing the Security Council in New York on efforts to build a durable peace and protect civilians from the ravages of a brutal conflict that erupted between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir, and his former deputy, Riek Machar, in 2013.

Last September, a revitalized peace agreement was signed between the two, and it has largely held: “The drop in political violence…has meant hundreds, if not thousands of people are alive, who otherwise would not be”, said Mr. Shearer.

According to UN figures, more than half a million South Sudanese have chosen to return home, including more than 210,000 refugees from neighbouring countries.

“These positive signs come from a very low base. But it’s a glimmer of what is possible with peace. And it is vital that this trend continues”, he said. “Since the signing of the peace agreement, more than 110 rapprochements have occurred in communities around the country. UNMISS directly facilitated more than a quarter of these.”

Based on direct experience, the UNMISS chief said that the pace of dialogue and peacebuilding “at the grassroots level, is moving much faster than amongst the elites negotiating nationally. The country’s politicians need to listen to the mood of the people and follow the lead set by these local communities.”

Even though 79 per cent of people interviewed in a survey reported that a member of their immediate family had been killed in the civil war, a remarkable 89 per cent still believe “there will be lasting peace by the end of the year,” he said.

“Let’s be frank. The fighting has stopped because the leaders ordered their soldiers to stop. If it resumes – against the will of the people – it will be because those same leaders want it, and ordered it, to happen.”

He said the latest delay until November, in forming a united transitional Government, had to be the last, adding that more face-to-face meetings between the President and his former deputy were essential: “If at a local level, if former bitter enemies can put the past behind them and reconcile, their national leaders must do the same. These leader-to-leader meetings, preferably held in Juba (South Sudan’s capital), are critical because trust and confidence can’t cold start the day a new unified Government is formed.”

Safe, voluntary and dignified return ‘a growing trend’

Mr. Shearer said the safe and voluntary return of internally-displaced and refugees, should be seen in the context of the 2.3 million South Sudanese still living as refugees, and nearly two million IDPs. But prior to the revitalized peace deal, he noted, there were around 18,000 choosing to go home, compared with 76,000 each month today.

He said the most common reason why IDPs were reluctant to leave Protection of Civilian sites now, was so as not to interrupt their children’s education, not a fear of insecurity.

“Our protection role will naturally diminish if there is peace. We can then look to adjust our troop requirements accordingly, while continuing our mediation and peace building actions,” said Mr. Shearer, formerly a top politician in his native New Zealand.

‘No significant action’ taken against perpetrators of alleged war crimes

Briefing Council members next, was Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Andrew Gilmour, who said the rights division of UNMISS had documented a “significant and welcome decrease” in overall violations and abuses by men in uniform – both Government and opposition – across the country.

But a “major exception” was “the continued prevalence of sexual violence” which peaked in Bentiu at the end of last year. In Central Equatoria today, Government and opposition fighters continue to clash, generating reports of harrowing abuse, said Mr. Gilmour, who noted that inter-communal violence had evolved from traditional grievances, to political ones, remaining a serious concern.

“Despite the existence of a body of evidence that war crimes and crimes against humanity have taken place in South Sudan, no significant action has been taken against the perpetrators”, he said. “Today, a general culture of impunity persists…and continues to fuel acts of violence against civilians.”

To break the cycle, the senior rights official said it was vital “to ensure that the transitional justice mechanisms outlined in the peace agreement, are implemented.”

He asked the Council to urge Government and opposition to abide by and implement their commitments, and rein in sexual violence. Finally, he called on “the entire international community to stop the cycle of impunity” and realize a court process to provide justice, for the victims of the brutal conflict.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

The Indian miracle state pointing the way to global sustainability

7 ways the ‘biological century’ will transform healthcare

UN chief welcomes announcement by Emir of Qatar to allocate $50 million to support Syrian refugees, displaced persons

Future of Insurance Claims in Focus at Fourth Annual Connected Claims Europe Summit

Greece bailout programme: Full agreement after marathon negotiations on debt relief between IMF and Eurozone

Infringements: Commission adapts its calculation methodology for financial sanctions

High-flyers: China is on top of the world for skyscraper construction

Here are five tips to make your message clear in a crowded world

Iran: women hunger strikers entitled to medical care, UN rights experts urge

Education should be like everything else. An on-demand service

Intel @ MWC14: Our Love Story with Mobile – Transforming Wireless Networks

France and Germany can’t reach consensus regarding EU’s top jobs

Britain declares trade war on mainland Europe

Cyclone Fani hits India, UN moves to protect vulnerable refugees in Bangladesh

Sudan: ‘Exercise utmost restraint’ urges Guterres as thousands march in Khartoum, sparking deadly clashes

EU Elections: new rules to prevent breaches of data used to influence elections

How robotics can help humanitarians bridge the digital divide

Chart of the day: Why marine protected sites matter more than ever

Towards a zero tobacco public space in Cameroon

EU: Turkey to shelter Syrian refugees and turn other immigrants back in return of €3 billion

Yemen ceasefire deal: ‘Potential’ now to restore humanitarian lifeline to millions

A money laundering case on Vatican Bank’s road to renovation

Over 40 million people still victims of slavery

Meet the Junior Enterprise network at JEWC 2014!

‘We need to do more’ to transform the world, deputy UN chief tells African audiences

Engaging women and girls in science ‘vital’ for Sustainable Development Goals

Creating shared value: an opportunity and challenge for entrepreneurship

In Christchurch, UN chief calls for tolerance, solidarity to extinguish ‘wildfire’ of hate speech

2013, a Political Odyssey: What future for Italy?

Parliament approves €104.2m in EU aid to Greece, Spain, France and Portugal

This is why mountains matter more than you think

FROM THE FIELD: Finding refuge in the ‘beautiful game’

Tackling terrorism: MEPs approve tighter rules on homemade explosives

Commission reports on progress in risk reduction in the Banking Union and calls for faster progress on Capital Markets Union ahead of EU Leaders’ meetings

The gender gap of medicine in 2018

Employers’ organizations work towards improving the enabling environment for sustainable enterprises

High level political talks didn’t break the stalemate in Ukraine

What is the Coral Triangle?

EU will not deliver on promises without democratic accountability

Will Qualcomm avoid Broadcom’s hostile takeover post the 1 bn euro EU antitrust fine?

How Africa’s women can drive the 4IR forward

New UN Syria envoy pledges to work ‘impartially and diligently’ towards peace

Eurozone: Inflation plunge to 0.4% in July may trigger cataclysmic developments

Tuesday’s Daily Brief: #GlobalGoals progress, essential meds, updates from Cox’s Bazar, Sudan and DR Congo

Praising Roma’s contributions in Europe, UN expert urges end to rising intolerance and hate speech

EU leaders agree on 2030 Climate and Energy Package: is “flexible” brave enough?

Commission: New proposal for centrally managed bank resolution

The Peoples are missing from EU’s monetary union

What can the private sector do to alleviate the refugee crisis?

Moratorium call on surveillance technology to end ‘free-for-all’ abuses: UN expert

Snowden is the “EU nomination” for this year’s Oscars

A Europe that protects: EU reports on progress in fighting disinformation ahead of European Council

How to build a model for human security in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Your next pair of sneakers could be made from coffee

Mobility package: Parliament adopts position on overhaul of road transport rules

Promoting rule of law and fundamental rights in the EU

EU budget deal struck with Parliament negotiators

Female African coders ‘on the front-line of the battle’ to change gender power relations: UN chief

UN emergency relief fund has ‘never been more critical’: Guterres

‘Multiplicity’ of rights violations in Ukraine as fifth winter of conflict bites

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s