South Sudan - Security Council, 8994th meeting
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South Sudan - Security Council, 8994th meeting.

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The Security Council decided today to extend the mandate of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan for one year, as two delegates abstained over the incorporation of language related to human rights and climate change.

Adopting resolution 2625 (2022) (to be issued as document S/RES/2625(2022)) under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, members decided — by a vote of 13 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (China, Russian Federation) — to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) until 15 March 2023, and to maintain its force levels with a ceiling of 17,000 troops and 2,101 police personnel.

Also by that text, the Council mandated UNMISS to carry out tasks in four key areas: protection of civilians; creation of conditions conducive to the delivery of humanitarian assistance; support for implementation of the Revitalised Agreement and the Peace Process; and monitoring, investigating and reporting on violations of international humanitarian law, as well as abuses of human rights.

By other terms, the Council called for strengthening the Mission’s sexual and gender-based violence prevention and response activities. Members demanded that all parties immediately cease all forms of violence, human rights violations and abuses — including rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence — and called upon the Government of South Sudan to hold those responsible to account. Expressing deep concern about delays in implementing the Revitalised Peace Agreement, they called on the parties to implement it fully, and for the full, equal and meaningful participation of women, civil society and others in all conflict-resolution and peacebuilding efforts.

Further by the text, the Council called upon the Government and other relevant actors to undertake several priorities before the end of the current UNMISS mandate. They include providing security to re-designated civilian-protection sites; initiating and overseeing a permanent constitution-making process; accelerating progress in preparations for free and fair elections; ending all obstructions to UNMISS; completing the graduation of necessary unified forces; and progressing towards establishment of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan, as well as the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation, and Healing and the Compensation and Reparation Authority.

As Council members spoke in explanation of position, the representative of the United States — who facilitated the drafting of the resolution — noted that the renewed mandate reinforces the core mission of UNMISS and calls upon it to strengthen its sexual and gender-based violence response activities and its electoral support to the Government of South Sudan.

Ghana’s representative, while welcoming the adoption, nevertheless expressed regret that the resolution does not take the views of some delegations into account. She expressed concern over its use of the term “human rights defenders” in operative paragraph 3(b), saying it is neither clearly defined nor universally agreed. Ghana would have preferred the use of the term “human rights activists” instead, she said.

The Russian Federation’s representative expressed regret that the text does not reflect positive developments in South Sudan, and instead has a “negative slant”. Cautioning that UNMISS lacks the resources to perform functions related to women and human rights, she said such matters would have been more appropriate in a document of the Human Rights Council. Their inclusion in the present resolution is a tool to keep South Sudan under sanctions, she added. While the Russian Federation is in favour of providing electoral support, such a process must be properly planned, smooth and transparent, and the relevant conditions acceptable to all political forces, she emphasized. The core function of UNMISS must be to support implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement, she said, calling for an investigation into the reasons for delays in its implementation and urging the adaptation of the sanctions regime to the new realities on the ground. She expressed regret that, in drafting the resolution, the United States ignored the views of some Council members and pushed through an unbalanced text.

India’s representative said his country — as a long-standing bilateral partner of South Sudan and one of the largest contributors of troops to UMISS — voted in favour of today’s important mandate renewal. However, several of India’s concerns went unaddressed in the adopted resolution, he noted. Emphasizing that the Security Council is not the forum in which to discuss climate change, he said the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the appropriate venue. However, the insertion of a reference to the Convention in preambular paragraph 25 does not properly highlight its pre-eminence, he added, cautioning that, whereas climate may have aggravated instability in Africa, oversimplifying that issue “does not help anyone”.

China’s delegate, noting that UNMISS has made enormous efforts to facilitate implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement and advance nation-building, expressed support for the mandate’s renewal, saying he looks forward to a greater role for the Mission in the pursuit of peace and stability. Noting that the United States pushed for inclusion of human rights-related language throughout the consultations, he said that resulted in an unbalanced resolution. The international community should support South Sudan’s efforts to gradually forge a path for human rights development, rather than resorting to interference in internal affairs, he emphasized. He went on to express China’s opposition to the term “human rights defenders”, saying it lacks a clear, unified definition, and to a request that the Mission assess the effects of climate change on the humanitarian situation.

South Sudan’s representative acknowledged that implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement has been slow — with some provisions still unimplemented — while pointing out nonetheless that “peace has been holding in the country”. The Council and the international community should have engaged stakeholders in a constructive manner on how best to advance the holding of fair and credible elections, he said, adding that, since international participation in the polls is subject to invitation by the Government, consultations should be held with Juba before that invitation is issued. He went on to stress that the mandate’s renewal is an opportunity for the international community to re-engage with the Government to ensure a smooth conclusion of the interim period.

The meeting began at 10:07 a.m. and ended at 10:26 a.m.