UN laments stubborn cycles of violence as South Sudan turns 10

UN laments stubborn cycles of violence as South Sudan turns 10

Tuesday, June 22, 2021 8:05 am

President Kiir of South Sudan

President Kiir of South Sudan

By Cecilia Ologunagba

Nicholas Haysom, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary General on Sudan, says South Sudan is marking its 10th independence anniversary amid languishing political progress and a range of humanitarian challenges.

Haysom, Under Secretary General at UN, told Security Council members on Monday that South Sudan, the UN’s youngest Member State, had been going through cycles of violence since its independence.

Haysom, who also heads the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan, known as UNMISS, recalled the broad international optimism that surrounded the country’s independence on 9 July 2011.

“A decade later, however, pervasive insecurity in particular inter-communal violence continues to obstruct the realisation of a durable and sustainable peace,” he said.

Reporting some notable achievements on the ground since his last briefing to the Council in March, Haysom said South Sudan’s government had reconstituted the national legislature and appointed 550 new members.

“It also established a taskforce to oversee and coordinate transitional justice and other judicial reforms.

“Importantly, the Government also launched a ‘permanent Constitution-making process,’ based on an inclusive national conversation that aims to lay the foundation for a new social contract between South Sudan’s citizens.

“Drafting a national Constitution is a quintessential act of sovereignty. It expresses the highest aspirations of a nation and its most cherished values,” said Haysom.

For its part, UNMISS recently deployed the needs assessment mission requested by the Council, for the conduct of free and fair elections. A detailed report will be submitted shortly.

That progress notwithstanding, the overall implementation of South Sudan’s Revitalised Peace Agreement adopted in 2018 against the backdrop of multiple security and political crises remains slow.

While the Revitalised Agreement provides a clear roadmap for peace through reform, political transformation, security, development and national reconciliation, many of its requirements have not been met nearly three years later.

In particular, the constitution of the Council of States and the nomination of the legislative assembly speaker, are pending.

Transitional security arrangements remain behind schedule, and pervasive insecurity continues to impede sustainable peace from taking root.

Haysom told Council members that, so far in 2021, more than 80 per cent of civilian casualties have been attributed to inter-communal violence and community-based militias.

Among many critical tasks, UNMISS continues to support the government in protecting displaced populations.

However, weak or absent state governance institutions throughout South Sudan have enabled spoilers to “exploit perennial communal and ethnic cleavages,” Haysom warned.

Entrenched insecurity has also hindered the cultivation of crops and contributed to a vicious cycle of livestock raiding, leaving many communities dangerously short of food.

He noted that the UN and regional actors all shared a deep concern over the resumption of violence between communities in the country’s Greater Pibor district.

He underlined the need for the government to take concrete steps to address root causes of the conflict.

UNMISS continues to collaborate with local authorities and communities to promote reconciliation, secure the release of abducted women and children, and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

In addition, Haysom sounded alarms about worryingly weakened rule of law institutions and deteriorating economic conditions, which led to increased criminality and the targeting of humanitarian workers.

In 2021 alone, four humanitarian workers were killed in South Sudan and millions of dollars of humanitarian supplies were looted or destroyed.

Pledging that UNMISS will continue to take the lead in promoting and advocating for safe humanitarian aid delivery, Haysom called for “irreversible progress towards peace,” which will require tangible progress against the benchmarks of the Revitalised Peace Agreement.

Join The Conversation

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.