South Sudan: we must be proactive, clear-sighted and insistent. [fr]
Speech by Mr. Antoine Michon, political coordinator at the French Permanent Mission to the United Nations
Security Counil – 20 September 2018
I too would like to thank the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Mr. Jean-Pierre Lacroix, and the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Sudan and South Sudan, Mr. Nicholas Haysom, for their informative briefings.
This meeting comes at an important time for the Sudan and South Sudan. The situation on the ground in Abyei is stable, there are significant improvements in the relations between the two countries and the signing of the peace agreement to revitalize the 2011 Agreement on the Resolution of the Conf lict in the Republic of South Sudan give rise to hope, even though we are all aware that we should be cautious regarding its implementation. On that point, we must be not only proactive, but also clear-sighted and insistent.
In that regard, I wish to broach two points, first, on the implementation of the requests made by the Security Council concerning border demarcation, and, secondly, on the Secretary-General’s proposals regarding the evolution of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA).
In resolution 2416 (2018), the Council set out clear objectives for the parties regarding border demarcation and, in the light of the facts outlined by Jean-Pierre Lacroix, our clear observation is that the progress made does not meet our expectations. There has been some progress, in particular the issuance of authorizations for UNISFA patrols and Saturday’s meeting of the Joint Political and Security Mechanism.
However, the overall outcome is disappointing, especially with regard to the establishment of operating bases for the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism or the opening of border-crossing corridors. We are aware of the constraints on the parties. The rainy season is making work difficult and peace efforts in South Sudan have monopolized the mission’s efforts.
However, we strongly encourage the parties to do more, faster, to make progress on border demarcation. In that context, UNISFA must continue to play a vital role, but the recommendations made by the Secretary-General must allow us to adapt it to the situation on the ground.
In that respect, I would like to underline four points.
First, the proposed choice to strengthen the political posture of UNISFA must be supported. Indeed, stabilizing Abyei and the border is essential; that has been a major achievement for UNISFA. However, it is also necessary for UNISFA to contribute more to the political settlement of the Abyei issue and other border disputes. Naturally, UNISFA is in no way a substitute for the work of the African Union High-level Implementation Panel or the efforts of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General, which we fully support.
Secondly, the proposed scaling up of the police component would respond to the challenge of rising crime in the region. That is a key issue, as we must not allow a culture of impunity to develop, particularly with regard to sexual assault.
Thirdly, the proposed redeployment and overall reduction of the military component are also a move in the right direction. That must be undertaken sensibly in order to preserve the stability of Abyei and the border. The balance that we wish to strike is of course to seek to improve the effectiveness of the Force without running the risk of weakening it or undermining the stability of the region.
Finally, I would like to emphasize relations with local stakeholders and populations. UNISFA must support local initiatives that are useful to the
political process. It is important for the country team to be encouraged to develop projects focused on reconciliation and development, in the spirit of and in accordance with the Secretary-General’s sustaining peace initiative, which must guide all our actions.
In conclusion, I congratulate and warmly thank the Special Envoy for the excellent work he has done, and wish him much success in his new position.