19 December 2016 - The serious nature of the situation in South Sudan requires collective mobilization [fr]
South Sudan - Statement by Mr. Alexis Lamek, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - 19 December 2016
I would like to start by saying that France also aligns itself with the words of condolence conveyed to the Russian Federation in the light of the criminal attack that struck its Ambassador in Turkey.
I had not intended to take the floor here today in the Chamber, as I really only wanted to speak in the consultations, but it is not every day that the Secretary-General sends us such a powerful public message. The Secretary-General, as well as, of course, the Under-Secretary-General, delivered strong messages warning us that we have to assume our collective responsibility. It is a call for action.
For us, the serious nature of the situation in South Sudan requires collective mobilization not only by the Security Council but also by the whole of the United Nations system and by the region itself, starting with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) along with the African Union. First and foremost, however, resolute action by the Government of South Sudan is essential. For us, collectively speaking, there are five or six axes on which we need to act rapidly.
The first — stated quite clearly by the Secretary-General — is the arms embargo. We regret the fact that for almost a year we have been discussing the embargo; the Secretary-General has advocated for it, and we have called for it. We regret that the arms embargo has not yet been imposed. Let me make it clear that for us the arms embargo is not a punitive measure or a lever to obtain some sort of political advantage. It is a measure of common sense that is intended to help a country ravaged by war and awash in weapons. The flow of weapons needs to be halted, and an end needs to be put to the arms trade circulating in that war-torn country. It is necessary, therefore, that the arms embargo be put in place as soon as possible.
The second element is a political process. We know, of course, the roles that the region, the subregion, IGAD and the African Union have played in undertaking rather encouraging developments in terms of national dialogue. What we would like to see are those encouraging developments actually being converted into actions. What is certain in any case is that, in the face of the obstacles created by some parties and the hate speech, which might hinder or undermine the peace process, the Security Council will have a role to play. We do have an instrument — targeted sanctions — that will enable us to intervene in support of a peace process, which we all desire.
The third element is the central question of the protection of civilians. That is, after all, at the very heart of the mandate of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). We decided last August to deploy the Regional Protection Force to bolster UNMISS capabilities. Since then, the Transitional Government of South Sudan has given its formal consent to that deployment, but unfortunately things have not moved forward, and now it is high time for plots of land to be provided so that we are able to deploy the Force. That is, of course, a test of the good faith and will of South Sudan, namely, to enable the deployment of the Force, and it is very important that Juba demonstrate that.
The fourth element is linked to my previous point. The implementation of the UNMISS mandate will require the unfettered ability to move and act. All obstacles that might hinder the deployment of the Force must be lifted. That is a core element of the message sent by Security Council members during their visit to South Sudan in September. Obstacles to the status of forces agreement must be lifted, and targeted sanctions by the Security Council will ensure that that takes place. In the case of confirmed obstacles, we could use sanctions to ensure that the peacekeeping operation that we have deployed is able to operate fully.
The fifth point I wanted to make is related to humanitarian issues. After I heard the point made by the Under-Secretary-General regarding the difficulties and obstacles that we face and the unacceptable price being paid by humanitarian workers, it is quite clear that it is absolutely essential to ensure that full access and cooperation be granted to the whole of the humanitarian community, at a time when the situation is quite disastrous.
My last point concerns the question of accountability and impunity. The transitional agreement adopted earlier this year provided for a hybrid court, the establishment of which is absolutely essential. South Sudan requires a judicial mechanism commensurate with the grave crimes being committed. The African Union will have an important role to play. It will enjoy the support of the Security Council in that regard, but there must be progress towards the establishment of the hybrid court.
All of these messages are contained in resolution 2327 (2016), adopted a few days ago, but the Security Council will have to make them more concrete and operational, first by voting in favour of the draft resolution on an arms embargo, and secondly by remaining mobilized and prepared to use leverage, starting with targeted sanctions, to curb a spiral of violence that could well lead to the disastrous situation described by Mr. Adama Dieng a few days ago.