Establishing an arms embargo is now urgent [fr]
South Sudan - Speech of Ms Anne Gueguen, First Political Counsellor at the French Mission to the United Nations - Security Council - 17 November 2016
I thank Special Representative of the Secretary-General to South Sudan, Ms. Ellen Løj; Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, Mr. Adama Dieng; and you, Sir, in your capacity as Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 2206 (2015) on South Sudan, for your briefings. I would also like to particularly welcome the activities of Ms. Løj in heading the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) over the past few years in very different circumstances.
The seriousness of the situation that has just been described fully justifies today’s open meeting to speak about the matter. France is deeply concerned by the threat of a new escalation of violence in South Sudan. Since the conflict began almost three years ago, civilians have been the victims of unspeakable violence and abuse. Men, women and children have been executed, murdered, raped, mutilated and abducted. Violence has spread to many regions of the country. In addition to the fighting between the two parties to the conflict, there are now cross-community conflicts, ethnic violence and armed group attacks.
While that is already a bleak picture, today South Sudan is in danger of plunging further into a new spiral of violence. The Secretary-General, the Panel of Experts of the Sanctions Committee and Mr. Dieng himself have sounded the alarm. They have alerted us to hate speech and incitement to murder, which makes us fear the worst. They have drawn our attention to the risk of an escalation of violence, particularly along ethnic lines, which could result in mass violence.
The Security Council cannot turn a deaf ear to such dangers. As was underscored by Mr. Dieng, such a spiral of violence is not inevitable and therefore can be prevented. The people of South Sudan cannot be abandoned to such a fate. They are in danger and we have to provide them with the necessary support. The Security Council must therefore mobilize to prevent South Sudan from descending into chaos. It cannot and must not stand idly by. It has to act in accordance with its responsibility under the Charter of the United Nations and take the necessary measures.
First of all, establishing an arms embargo is now urgent. The ongoing influx into South Sudan of light and heavy weapons feeds the conflict and makes it easier to commit acts of violence against civilians. We need to do our utmost to slow this flow of weapons. France has long called for such an embargo and regrets that the Security Council could not decide on it earlier. However, there is still time. We support the United States proposal and call on members of the Council to stop prevaricating.
Next, the resumption of the political process is critical to restoring hope to South Sudan. The conflict cannot be resolved militarily; any settlement must be political. The parties must therefore urgently commit to ceasing hostilities and participate in inclusive dialogue that can stabilize the governance of the country and move towards an exit to the crisis. For that reason, we welcome the active roles that the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and the African Union have played since the beginning of the crisis in trying to promote a political solution. Today more than ever it is necessary to redouble the efforts in that regard, and the United Nations can help, in particular through the Special Representative of the Secretary-General. The Security Council must also play its role by supporting those efforts. We must stand ready to remind those who seeking to impede peace initiatives that the Council is ready to take necessary measures against them.
Lastly, UNMISS must be in a position to carry out its mandate. We strongly condemn the attacks perpetrated against the Mission and humanitarian workers. The obstacles that have been set up to prevent UNMISS access to vulnerable populations are unacceptable. We call on the Government of South Sudan and all the parties to the conflict to guarantee full freedom of movement to UNMISS. The Government of South Sudan must also honour its commitments and ensure the proper deployment of all Mission contingents, including the Regional Protection Force, and their equipment.
I also want to reiterate the full support of France to UNMISS, which is implementing its protection of civilians mandate in very difficult circumstances. In that regard, we welcome the efforts deployed by the Secretariat to draw lessons from the shortcomings noted during the outbreak of violence in Juba in July. We welcome and support the commitment of the Secretariat to implementing the recommendations as quickly as possible. The Council must support those efforts.
The civilian populations of South Sudan have suffered for far too long from the war, which to them seems endless. That situation could deteriorate further. It is the Council’s responsibility to mobilize in order to prevent South Sudan from plunging further into the spiral of violence. It is time for us to act.