Deadlock broken, South Sudan on road to ‘sustainable peace’, but international support still key

UNMISS/Nektarios Markogiannis Salva Kiir, President of South Sudan, (centre right) shakes hands with Riek Machar, who was sworn in as First Vice President of the new Transitional Government of National Unity on 22 February 2020.

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


Positive developments in South Sudan have “moved the country further along the road to sustainable peace”, the top UN official there told Security Council members on Wednesday.

The world’s youngest nation has been mired in instability and conflict for nearly all the eight years since it gained independence from Sudan.

In 2018 President Kiir and his former Vice-President and long-time political rival, Mr. Machar, signed a peace accord with the hopes that it would end the crisis and improve the lives and safety of millions of South Sudanese. Last month, Mr. Machar was sworn in as first Vice-President, sealing the peace deal at the State House in the capital of Juba.

“On 15 February, President Salva Kiir – against the wishes of many of his many supporters – agreed to a compromise to return South Sudan to its pre-2015 position of 10 states, although he added three administrative areas”, Special Representative and head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) David Shearer told the Council via VTC.

He noted that Mr. Machar had “accepted the challenge to join a transitional government in Juba serving as the country’s First Vice President – despite transitional security arrangements not yet in place”.

With the deadlock broken, five Vice Presidents were subsequently sworn in.

Mr. Shearer attributed the progress to “the political willingness of two men who put the interests of their country first”: President Kiir for making “a critical concession”, and Mr. Machar for agreeing to return to the capital.

“We often speak of courage in war and battle”, he said. “But peace also requires courage”.

Impact on the ground

As relief swept the country and ministerial discussions began, the UN envoy said that groups who did not sign on to the 2018 Peace Agreement will return to Rome next week for negotiations.

Citing an International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimate that some 800,000 people had returned since the Peace Agreement was signed, Mr. Shearer assured the Council that “the new government can prompt positive change”.

Meanwhile, UNMISS has stepped up its protective presence to build confidence in areas of return and the UN Police (UNPOL) is expanding technical assistance and beginning to co-locate with the National Police Service to enhance policing capabilities.

Noting a change in the protection environment, the UN envoy said that as “the ceasefire and the free movement of opposition leaders across South Sudan has lowered the risk of violence”, UNMISS has prioritized peacekeepers to “hot spot locations and areas of return”.

Key issues

In line with the Peace Agreement, a properly functioning state requires an end to:

  • Impunity – by increasing support to the police and justice chain.
  • Corruption – through financial accountability and transparency.
  • Dependency – through shifting to support programmes that promote self-reliance.
  • Exclusion – to ensure that all South Sudanese are part of the democratic process.

However, he warned that the lack of health and education in rural areas has discouraged returns and must be redressed by humanitarian and development actors, “including donors”.

Challenges

Nevertheless, a daunting array of challenges will test the new government’s unity.

“Most urgent is the need to move on the transitional security arrangements”, the UNMISS chief said, pointing out that pre-transitional structures have become redundant and “implementation is dangerously lagging”.

And precarious humanitarian situations exist in many states.

“The anticipated improvement in harvest levels 12 months ago was quashed by the extensive flooding last year”,  he

explained, adding that crops were destroyed, livestock lost and water supplies contaminated, “worsening health conditions, particularly for children and those people who have sparse access to health services”.  It has also contributed to communal violence between pastoralists.

While the threat of damage from locusts has yet to have a substantial impact, he updated that the UN agriculture agency, FAO, is “gearing up its preparations to spray to protect crops”.

Moving forward

As the UN mission is due for renewal, Mr. Shearer acknowledged that it would be premature to propose a significant change in its mandate, but with the improved mobility of peacekeepers, “plans are in place” to increase “riverine and air support, particularly during the rainy season”.

There will also be an expansion in UNPOL’s role and Rule of Law unit “to better tackle impunity and support the shift to civilian law enforcement and accountability”.

While the international community may feel cautious in moving forward, the UN envoy stressed that we cannot “totally step back to wait to see what happens before making a commitment”.

“Our actions can push South Sudan further toward sustainable peace; our inaction can help condemn it to failure”, he spelled out.

“International partners must remain engaged – both in solidarity and, at times, with pressure – to encourage compromise to achieve and maintain the unity”, concluded the Special Representative. “South Sudan’s future depends on it”.

Women’s involvement

On behalf of women and civil society, Betty Sunday, Coordinator of the Women’s Monthly Forum on Peace and Political Processes in South Sudan, advocated for the recognition of the role that women’s groups played in building peace and argued that more women be involved in the political process.

“South Sudanese women have fought hard” for peace, yet “we are still far from achieving the 35 per cent quota for women in the transitional government body”, she said, providing, as an example, that a list of governors under consideration for office “did not include a single woman”.

“This young nation of ours will only achieve a full peace through the meaningful participation of women and women-led organizations”, she affirmed, calling on the Council “to stand with us”.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

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

Three tips for breaking through bias and seeing evidence more clearly

Indonesia has a plan to deal with its plastic waste problem

Mental health during COVID-19 outbreak: who takes care of health professionals?

JADE visits Lithuanian Junior Initiatives

Mobile technology saving lives: Changing healthcare systems with simple technology solutions

‘Historic’ new Syria talks should focus on relief for war-weary civilians, says UN negotiator

Brexit: new European Parliament reaffirms wholehearted support for EU position

Scientists can lead the fight against fake news

The refugee crisis seen through the eyes of a young doctor from Turkey

New research reveals the true extent of corruption in fisheries

New tech infrastructure will help economies recover after COVID-19

Pride in health care during Pride Month: Are we ready for a dignified health care for LGBTQI+ patients?

Survivors of ISIL terror in Iraq want justice, not revenge, says head of UN investigation team

Assassinations in Ethiopia amidst regional ‘coup’ attempt, condemned by UN chief

MEPs propose more transparent legislative drafting and use of allowances

How fintech is setting Southeast Asia’s SMEs free

Europe and UN form bulwark against ‘might makes right’ worldview, EU foreign affairs chief tells Security Council

Sustainable Development Summit: ‘We must step up our efforts – now’, Guterres declares

Dangers of poor quality health care revealed ‘in all countries’: WHO report

Independent UN rights expert calls for compassion, not sanctions on Venezuela

Why press freedom should be at the top of everyone’s agenda

Draghi indirectly accuses Germany of using double standards in financial issues

Why the UN is investigating poverty in the United Kingdom

Access to health in the developped and developing world

State aid: Commission approves Luxembourg guarantee measure to further support economy in coronavirus outbreak

Breaking news on European Youth Employment: European Youth Forum Guide tackles poor quality internships!

How three US cities are using data to end homelessness

Rule of Law: European Commission refers Poland to the Court of Justice to protect judges from political control

Mobile technology facilitating social distance in the middle of a pandemic

Sydney is choking on record levels of smog – and the bushfire season is just getting started

Smokers who quit one month before surgery reap benefits: UN health agency

European Youth Forum @ European Business Summit 2015: Why interns should matter to business

The first new university in the UK for 40 years is taking a very different approach to education

Societies must unite against ‘global crisis of antisemitic hatred’, Guterres urges

Four lessons from Africa on building effective business ecosystems

Scientists have created the world’s ‘first psychopath AI’

EU growth in 2015 to be again sluggish; Can the Juncker Commission fight this out?

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

Friday’s Daily Brief: human rights in Sudan, sombre anniversaries for Rwanda and Nigeria, and fears of ‘chaos’ in Libya

World Health Organization calls crisis meeting over deadly Ebola outbreak in DR Congo

So, what is your favourite Sustainable Development Goal?

An alternative to the future of antimicrobial therapy

Is Haiti better prepared for disasters, nine years on from the 2010 earthquake?

Syria: ‘Deplorable’ violence in Idlib against civilians, humanitarian workers must ‘stop immediately’: UN Coordinator

Bundestag kick starts the next episode of the Greek tragedy

Over $39 million earmarked by UN-backed fund to combat effects of climate change in Nepal

Digitalization is changing banking – These 3 trends will help shape its future

Europe is ready to engage, von der Leyen tells annual EU Ambassadors’ Conference

Coronavirus: EU Civil Protection Mechanism activated for the repatriation of EU citizens

A new generation of women leaders is making waves in the Arab world

Teenagers’ career expectations narrowing to limited range of jobs, OECD PISA report finds

State aid: Commission approves €30 million Estonian measure to support Nordica in the context of the coronavirus outbreak

UN spotlights digitization of audiovisual archives to preserve human history on World Day

The European Parliament fails to really restrict the rating agencies

Islamophobia is driving more US Muslims to become politically engaged, suggests report

AIDEX 2015: Humanitarian Hero Award Winner Announced

New UN-supported farming app is cream of crop in tackling Sahel pest

State of the Energy Union: Progress made on the clean energy transition and a basis for green recovery

We have solutions to crime. We just need to scale them

More Stings?

Advertising

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