The Revitalized Agreement is an opportunity to end the South Sudanese conflict [fr]
South Sudan / UNMISS
Statement by Mrs. Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council – 25 June 2019
I wish at the outset to thank Special Representative David Shearer for his briefing, which was, as usual, very enlightening. It was particularly helpful that the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Andrew Gilmour, was able to brief us today on the human rights situation in South Sudan, which, as we know, lies at the heart of the conflict. I wish also to welcome in particular Ms. Lydia Minagano and thank her for her testimony from the ground and for her commitment to peace. Her statement recalled the central role of the women of South Sudan in the building of a lasting peace.
I will focus on three points: the peace process, the humanitarian and human rights situation, and the role of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
1/ The Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan is a historic opportunity to put an end to the conflict in South Sudan, and France deplores the fact that the pre-transition period was extended by six months. It is imperative that this be the last postponement. Whatever happens, a Government of national unity must be formed in November. We encourage President Kiir and Riek Machar to work together to find a compromise on the thorniest issues, including security arrangements and the demarcation of internal borders.
In order for the peace process to succeed, in addition to direct dialogue between the two main actors, a number of other conditions must be met.
- First, the parties must sincerely commit to reaching an agreement. We welcome the fact that the Catholic, Anglican and Presbyterian churches have taken a very useful initiative in this respect that is aimed at reminding the South Sudanese authorities of their responsibilities.
- The second condition is for the international community to support this process. Here I should like to stress the key role of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and welcome the work of its Special Envoy for South Sudan, Mr. Ismail Wais. The African Union and the United Nations must likewise support IGAD’s efforts.
- It is also important for non-signatory armed groups to rejoin the peace process, and here I refer in particular to the National Salvation Front.
- Finally, the quota for women provided for in the agreement must be respected. Women must be able to participate actively and meaningfully in the peace process at all levels and on all issues.
2/ The second key point I wish to make concerns the humanitarian aspect. The conflict in South Sudan is continuing to cause terrible suffering for the people of that country, in particular women and children. More than half of the population is suffering from food insecurity, and one third of South Sudanese remain displaced or refugees. The increase in the number of voluntary returns is encouraging, but we deplore the fact that at the same time intercommunal violence is causing fresh displacements.
Although the ceasefire is generally respected, intercommunal and sexual violence have not decreased. The Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan mandated by the Human Rights Council indicated in its most recent report that these acts of violence and the grave violations of human rights accompanying them could, given their nature and their level, potentially constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. The report notes restrictions on the freedoms of expression and movement in South Sudan as well as an increase in arbitrary detentions, the use of torture and forced disappearances.
France therefore urges all parties to engage urgently in an in-depth dialogue with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
We likewise call on all parties to establish and operationalize without delay the Hybrid Court for South Sudan with the support of the African Union.
The perpetrators of these violations cannot remain unpunished. The prosecution of those responsible and reparations for victims are essential to fulfilling the conditions for a lasting peace. The Security Council also has a role to play and must make use of sanctions in order to punish and bring pressure to bear on those who commit such crimes. That is an important instrument of dissuasion.
France is equally concerned by the numerous grave violations against children, and we call on all parties that have already made commitments in this area to implement them, in particular in the areas of prevention, recruitment, demobilization, disarmament and reintegration. We call on the other parties to sign a plan of action and implement it. Here an ongoing dialogue must be maintained with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Virginia Gamba.
We must also do everything in our power to meet the growing humanitarian needs, and the parties must ensure safe and unimpeded humanitarian access throughout the country’s territory. This, of course, includes protecting humanitarian workers, which is an obligation on which we cannot falter. It is also crucial to continue hammering home the fact that the perpetrators of the crimes committed during this conflict must be brought to justice. There can be no impunity.
3/ Thirdly, in this context UNMISS must fully implement its mandate.
Protecting civilians, in particular women and children, must remain its top priority. We encourage the Mission to facilitate the return of displaced persons, as long as the returns are safe, voluntary, dignified and well-informed.
We encourage UNMISS to support the peace process through the new provisions of its mandate, which allow for the provision of technical assistance to pre-transitional bodies and of help to the parties to assist them in making progress in implementing the Revitalized Agreement. We fully support the Special Representative in his good offices and encourage him to continue working closely with IGAD to that end.
It would also be very useful for the Mission to continue providing support to the mobile courts and to develop that initiative. It is essential to bring justice closer to perpetrators if we wish to effectively combat impunity.
To conclude, I should like, on behalf of France, to most sincerely thank the United Nations teams and humanitarian workers who, in often difficult conditions, perform vital work for the people of South Sudan.