South Sudan: Security Council Press Statement
The following Security Council press statement was issued today by Council President Raimonda Murmokaitė (Lithuania):
On February 11, the members of the Security Council were briefed by UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations Under Secretary-General Hervé Ladsous, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Under Secretary-General Valerie Amos, and UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Special Representative of the Secretary-General Hilde Johnson (via videoconference from Juba) on the situation in South Sudan.
The members of the Security Council expressed their strong support to the IGAD mediation effort and welcomed the commencement of the second round of the political talks between South Sudan leaders on February 11, intended to foster an inclusive political dialogue and national reconciliation ensuring durable peace and rule of law in South Sudan while addressing the underlying causes of the conflict and preventing further escalation of inter-ethnic violence and division. In that regard, they also welcomed the January 29 African Union Peace and Security Council Heads of State Communiqué and the January 31 IGAD Heads of State Communiqué addressing the situation in South Sudan.
The members of the Security Council welcomed the release of seven of the detained political leaders on January 29 and urged the immediate release of the remaining four detained leaders so that they can join government, political, civil society, women, youth, traditional and religious leaders in participating in the political dialogue and a reinvigorated constitutional process. The members of the Security Council stressed that this dialogue will succeed only if it is fully inclusive. They therefore called for all the detained and formerly detained political leaders to be allowed to take part in the political process and supported the intent of the IGAD Special Envoys to host a series of public consultations in support of national dialogue, as mandated by the IGAD Heads of State.
The members of the Security Council recalled the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement reached on January 23, and condemned the violations of that Agreement by all parties, resulting in further violence, death and destruction. They urged the establishment by IGAD of the Joint Technical Committee (JTC) and the immediate deployment of the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (MVM). The members of the Security Council demanded that all parties to the conflict immediately and fully comply with the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, and offer complete cooperation with the IGAD monitoring and verification efforts supported by the AU and UNMISS. In this regard, the members of the Security Council called for the redeployment and/or progressive withdrawal of allied forces invited by either side, consistent with the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, and warned of the serious consequences which could result from any regionalization of the conflict. They also noted with serious concern the February 10 reports alleging the indiscriminate use of cluster munitions by parties to the conflict.
The members of the Security Council strongly condemned the widespread violation of human rights and international humanitarian law, including targeted violence against civilians and specific ethnic and other communities, that have resulted in the loss of many thousands of civilians, internal displacement of hundreds of thousands of persons within UNMISS bases and across South Sudan, and tens of thousands refugees along the borders in neighboring nations. They also noted with concern the deteriorating humanitarian situation and fast-approaching rainy season, that when combined with the existing food insecurity crisis of 3.7 million South Sudanese, may result in famine in 2015 and regional instability. In this regard, the members of the Security Council demanded that all parties to refrain from any acts of violence against civilians, especially women and children, and to expedite the safe and unhindered access of humanitarian organizations for the timely delivery of humanitarian assistance to populations in need, while respecting the UN guiding principles of humanitarian assistance, and relevant provisions of international humanitarian law. They further called on the parties to ensure the security of economic infrastructure vital to the government’s ability to provide services, including oil installations, and specifically called on the Government of South Sudan to immediately allow for construction of alternative IDP sites. They also called on all UN Member States to financially support the urgent and substantial humanitarian response, including through the South Sudan Crisis Response Plan.
The members of the Security Council condemned the violence resulting in the death of three aid workers since December 15, and the far-reaching interference in humanitarian activities by all parties to the conflict, including the looting of humanitarian property and supplies. They also underscored the invaluable efforts of the humanitarian community who continue to deliver urgent assistance to populations in need, including in remote and insecure areas across South Sudan.
The members of the Security Council reiterated their steadfast support for UNMISS and its vital mission on behalf of the international community to protect civilians in South Sudan, including foreign nationals, conduct human rights monitoring and investigations, and facilitate humanitarian assistance to populations in need.
The members of the Council condemned in the strongest terms all actions by government and opposition forces that obstruct or impede the work of UNMISS and threaten its personnel and stressed that all such actions must cease. They condemned violations of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). They underscored their demand that all parties cooperate fully with UNMISS, cease obstruction to the implementation of the UNMISS mandate, respect the inviolability of its protection sites, aircraft and vehicles, and its augmentation with additional troops and police pursuant to Resolution 2132 (2013). In this regard, they renewed their call to the Government of South Sudan to immediately accept those additional troops and police, without conditions and regardless of country of origin. They stressed that armed threats and attacks on United Nations personnel and facilities are unacceptable and may constitute a violation of international law.
The members of the Security Council affirmed that independent and public human rights monitoring, investigation and reporting can help deter future violations and abuses and lay the groundwork for future justice, accountability, an end to impunity, reconciliation, and healing among all South Sudanese communities. To that end, the members of the Security Council welcomed the next steps toward the formation of an AU Commission of Inquiry and the anticipated delivery of the first UNMISS report on human rights next week.