South Sudan: we must give the peace process a full chance [fr]
South Sudan / UNMISS
Statement by Mrs. Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council – 18 December 2018
At the outset, I wish to express our gratitude to the three briefers for their enlightening briefings and for their ongoing commitment to peace in South Sudan.
I would like to focus on three main points: the peace process, the humanitarian situation and the Regional Protection Force of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). My first point is that we must give the peace process a full chance.
The signing on 12 September of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan presents a historic opportunity to emerge from the conflict. That opportunity must not be missed. The current pre-transitional phase is a moment that is crucial to the success of the Revitalized Agreement. The pre-transitional structures have begun to meet, which is a step in the right direction. The ceasefire is generally being respected, which is encouraging.
But I want to be very clear — the hardest part of the process still lies ahead. The pre-transitional institutions must become fully operational in order to ensure the success of the pre-transitional phase and the formation of the new unitary Government. Those institutions must, during the transition phase, set security arrangements, which include the cantonment of armed groups and the training of the joint security force. Further anticipated efforts include concrete progress on the drafting of a transitional constitution and the redrawing of internal borders. France encourages the parties to address all of those issues head-on and to seek political agreement on them. The ongoing suffering of people underlines the urgent need to move forward in the peace process.
That brings me to my second point, concerning our outrage at the suffering of the peoples of South Sudan, especially the women. The humanitarian situation in South Sudan remains unbearable. The figures speak for themselves — 2 million people have been displaced, 7 million people in South Sudan require humanitarian assistance and nearly half of the population suffers from severe malnutrition. South Sudan is now the most dangerous country for humanitarian workers. That seriously hinders the delivery of humanitarian assistance. We must therefore do everything we can to protect humanitarian workers, who continue to be the target of attacks, and we must continue our efforts to ensure that those heinous crimes do not go unpunished. It is also essential that we ensure safe and unimpeded humanitarian access throughout the country so that we can meet the extensive needs of the population. The efforts of UNMISS to protect humanitarian convoys are crucial in that regard. The Council can count on France’s constant commitment to those issues.
The level of sexual violence that Ms. Patten has described is also deeply appalling. The mass rapes that took place in Bentiu at the end of November are atrocious, and those despicable crimes must not go unpunished. Following the Council’s press statement of 7 December (SC/13611), France condemns in the strongest terms the use of sexual violence against civilians, which can constitute a war crime, especially when it used as a tactic of war. My delegation calls once again on the Committee established pursuant to resolution 2206 (2015) concerning South Sudan to fully mobilize itself against those who commit and sponsor sexual violence. South Sudan must take all necessary measures to ensure that the crimes committed do not go unpunished. That is essential if we are to put an end to the cycle of violence and counter-violence, and it is key to any national reconciliation process. In that regard, the establishment and operationalization of a hybrid court for South Sudan must remain a priority.
My third point concerns the Regional Protection Force. I would like once again to commend the valuable contribution that the region — in particular the Sudan and Uganda — has made to the peace process in South Sudan. The Revitalized Agreement would not have been possible without the investment and commitment of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). We understand that the IGAD countries want to participate in the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement by deploying troops to the UNMISS Regional Protection Force, but we must recognize that the safe return of opposition leaders and the cantonment of armed groups can be ensured only through a political agreement. The deployment of additional troops to the UNMISS Regional Protection Force cannot compensate for the lack of political agreement on those issues. We must also ensure that we maintain a single chain of command within UNMISS and that the Regional Protection Force is part of that chain of command. Finally, the rules and requirements — particularly those relating to capacity, training, the prevention of sexual violence, the provision of care for victims of sexual violence and the respect for human rights — must apply to the troops deployed in the Regional Protection Force.
In conclusion, I would like to pay tribute to the women and men who have been deployed in UNMISS for their important work, particularly in the area of civilian protection.