Thank you to SRSG Haysom for his briefing. UNMISS and the international community clearly remains committed to support South Sudan; while the Government has primary responsibility for the welfare of its people.
Thanks also to Ms. Reena Ghelani from OCHA, and Ms. Merekaje Lorna representing women peacebuilders and women human rights defenders, who will continue to play an important role in South Sudan. The full, equal, and meaningful participation of women in politics, decision-making, and peace building is undoubtedly essential to the development of a future peaceful, and democratic, South Sudan.
Norway is deeply concerned by the security situation in South Sudan. The level of violence has increased and remains unacceptably high. We are particularly worried by fighting taking place in Tambura in Western Equatoria along ethnic lines. Slow implementation of the Revitalised Peace Agreement is a significant driver of conflict. It creates discontent, and provides incentives for destabilising defections. The split of SPLM-IO in Upper Nile is a case in point. Norway commends IGAD’s rapid response, including calling a meeting of the Council of Ministers, and dispatching a high-level delegation to Juba. A collapse of the peace agreement will have dire consequences for the entire region. So, this level of engagement from South Sudan’s neighbours has created a welcome new momentum.
We stress the need now to focus on implementation of Chapter 2 on security arrangements, and urge the parties- in close cooperation with IGAD- to expedite this process. Norway welcomes the decision by the Presidency to immediately graduate the necessary Unified Forces and to unify the command structure.
The Revitalised Peace Agreement mandates that the transitional period ends in free and fair elections. The government and the Transitional Legislative Assembly should build on the workshop in May, and provide the legal basis for a Constitutional Conference as soon as possible. It is crucial that this process is led and owned by the people of South Sudan.
Freedom of: expression, association, and assembly are pre-requisites for free and meaningful elections. Norway is therefore deeply concerned by the recent arrests, detentions, and silencing of civil society activists and media. We stress the importance of the rule of law, the fight against corruption and impunity, and commend the capacity-building efforts of UNMISS in these areas.
We continue to be deeply alarmed by the high level of food insecurity and increased humanitarian needs in South Sudan- which have been driven by intensified conflict, flooding, COVID, disease outbreak and displacement. Accessing areas of need with humanitarian assistance is challenging due to the rainy season and flooding; but also due to conflict and insecurity. We urge all parties to ensure safe, and unhindered, access for humanitarian workers. In this context, we want to note the marked improvement in access for the peacekeepers.
Conflict is the most significant driver of humanitarian need, but we also know that climate change acts as a “crisis amplifier and multiplier”. In this respect we are pleased to learn about the work currently being carried out by UNMISS to establish a working group on climate change and security. We hope this work will contribute to integrating climate-related security risks into the UN’s: analysis, planning, conflict resolution efforts, and responses.
UNMISS’ mandate is to assist the government. And the international community remains committed to support. We therefore hope the next phase will be marked by cooperation, and common purpose, for the benefit of the people of South Sudan.