25 April 2017 - South Soudan: Action must be taken to ensure that weapons in South Sudan fall silent [fr]
South Sudan - Statement by Mr François Delattre, Permanent Reprensentative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 25 April 2017
Madam President, I wish to thank you for having convened this important meeting on the issue of South Sudan. I should also like to thank in particular Special Representative of the Secretary-General David Shearer for his briefing and for his leadership of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) since taking up his functions in January. I also welcome the briefing by the Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 2206 (2015) concerning South Sudan, and I congratulate Senegal for its resolute action at the helm of the Committee.
One month ago, the Council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2017/4) listing the actions expected of the South Sudanese parties by the end of April in order to stabilize the situation. However, as the briefers have underscored, it is clear that these demands have not been complied with. Hostilities have not ceased, far from it; the humanitarian situation remains catastrophic; there has been weak implementation of the peace agreement; the inclusiveness of the national dialogue has not been ensured; and UNMISS and humanitarian actors remain subject to intolerable restrictions and attacks.
Given this situation, the international community, and in particular the Council, must take action along two main, complementary lines.
The first priority is to protect civilians. Once again, civilians are the victims of the worst atrocities perpetrated in South Sudan. The situation has deteriorated even further in the country in recent weeks and months. The relative calm that prevails in Juba should not distract us from the violence of the fighting in many parts of the country, including the Upper Nile area, Bahr el-Ghazal and the Equatorias. As a result, human rights violations have multiplied, in particular against women and children, who are subject to the worst atrocities. Those civilians who are able to escape the violence are forced to leave their homes and swell the ranks of the already more than 1.6 million displaced persons in the country.
The protection of civilians requires the mobilization of the international community, guided by several concerns. The first priority is the implementation of the cessation of hostilities. This will require all international actors to bring pressure to bear on the South Sudanese parties to impress upon them the fact that their weapons must fall silent.
Regional organizations, including the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union (AU), naturally have a leading role to play.
We must also ensure humanitarian access to the civilian population. The resurgence of attacks against humanitarian actors is intolerable. We were particularly shocked by the recent killings of three humanitarian workers in Wau and six others in March, near Pibor. Those responsible for these crimes, as with any attack of this kind, must be identified and brought to justice.Full support also must be provided to UNMISS in its efforts to protect civilians. We welcome the more robust stance that it has adopted in recent months. Yet we cannot stand by as the Mission, which received its mandate from the Council, continues to be subject to restrictions on its movement as well as to bureaucratic impediments that prevent it from fulfilling its mandate, which is today more necessary than ever. The Council, like other regional actors and all partners in South Sudan, must unequivocally condemn such practices.Finally, an arms embargo must be imposed, as the Panel of Experts has recommended once again. France has long been in favour of such an embargo. This is a sine qua non both for the protection of civilians and for the establishment of conditions conducive to a genuine political dialogue.
The second area of action is to achieve progress with respect to a political solution to the conflict. To reach this goal, we must first of all be realistic about the current situation. The recent spike in clashes between Government troops, the opposition and the various armed groups makes clear that these actors continue to seek above all to consolidate their military positions as the rainy season approaches. This type of behaviour unfortunately makes it abundantly clear that South Sudanese stakeholders are continuing to choose a military approach over a political one.
Indeed, while the fighting is intensifying, the political process remains at an impasse. The peace agreement of 2015, the result of IGAD’s efforts, must remain the cornerstone of the solution to the conflict in South Sudan. It is the responsibility of the Transitional Government of National Unity, which itself came out of the agreement, to ensure this. The responsibility also falls to all South Sudanese stakeholders concerned to ensure that the agreement is effectively implemented.
This applies also to the national dialogue, which can have value only if it includes the full political spectrum of the South Sudanese population and civil society, and if it is conducted in a transparent, impartial and independent manner, one that will make it possible to identify lasting solutions to the country’s problems.
In this context, we welcome the efforts of the Chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, Mr. Festus Mogae, as well as those of the African Union High Representative for South Sudan, Мr. Alpha Oumar Кonaré, to ensure progress in the implementation of the peace agreement, including the national dialogue. To that end, they must be able to count on the steadfast support and continuing and coordinated mobilization of the international community and in particular of IGAD, the AU and, of course, the Council. We also reiterate our support for the Secretary-General’s commitment to creating a positive dynamic and ensuring optimal coordination among all actors in this respect.
Finally, we wish to recall that, in order to shift the mindset of spoilers to the peace process in South Sudan, the Council has a relevant tool at its disposal: targeted sanctions. We should not hesitate to apply them when the situation warrants it. This applies also to perpetrators of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.
The efforts that need to be made by the Security Council are clear. The Council will have to take all necessary actions if its expectations, as set forth on 23 March, are ignored by South Sudanese stakeholders. Along with IGAD and the AU, we must take action so as to ensure that weapons in South Sudan fall silent and that the intolerable suffering of civilians comes to an end.