First, let me congratulate SRSG Haysom on his new role. Norway wishes you all the best in this important endeavour.
This briefing takes place on the eve of an important milestone for both South Sudan and UNMISS, namely the ten-year anniversary of independence on the 9th of July. A decade is not a very long time. And as we reflect on the present, and the way forward, we should apply a long-term perspective.
South Sudan was born out of a long history of conflict, displacements, and civil war. Violence marked the lives of generations. Basic infrastructure was lacking and many institutions had to be set up from scratch. Indeed, building a modern state takes time, and is difficult. The complexity of the situation is reflected in the three elements at the heart of the mandate of UNMISS: peace keeping, peace building, and state building.
Norway’s support for the people of South Sudan has been consistent for the past 50 years. We are a partner in words, and in deeds. South Sudan consistently ranks among our top aid recipients.
As we want to see a country at peace with itself, and where all the people - especially the most marginalised - enjoy basic human rights and benefit from the fruits of development.
There are important signs of progress. The Cessation of Hostilities Agreement is in large part holding. And we appreciate all efforts to implement the revitalized peace agreement, and welcome the reconstitution of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly.
South Sudan has engaged constructively in Sudan’s peace processes as witnessed by the Juba Peace Agreement, and ongoing negotiations between Khartoum and SPLM-N.
We are impressed with the brave voices of the local civil society. They need to be heard - especially the young people. Independence means freedom. And democracy means respect for different opinions.
Overall we are disappointed with the current state of affairs. The people continue to suffer too much. From national political dynamics, and the absence of peace dividends, which continue to be the most important drivers of conflict and displacement in South Sudan.
Sub-national conflicts in turn create food insecurity, leading to a vicious cycle. One made worse when humanitarian workers are prevented from – or at worst attacked while – providing life-saving assistance. Such attacks are unacceptable.
Climate change also exacerbates conflict and displacement in South Sudan. Including through unseasonal flooding that sharpens competition for scarce resources. We are pleased to see that UNMISS now is mandated to address climate change.
Many issues need urgent attention. It is therefore necessary to prioritize. The National Dialogue made specific recommendations in this regard. Yet, comprehensive peace is essential. We call on all parties to negotiate in good faith, and reach inclusive agreements. And humanitarian actors need immediate and unfettered access to all areas of the country.
The Government of National Unity should speed up implementation of the Revitalized peace agreement - including the 35% provision on representation of women in government positions.
Work on the new and permanent constitution should start, ensuring the inclusive and meaningful participation of women and youth.
Political leadership is crucial to ensure that the next decade is better than the first. The current leaders must honestly assess where progress is lacking, and learn from these challenges.
Support from IGAD and regional actors is key to the successful implementation of the peace agreement, and an irreversible transition to free and fair elections. We will continue to support IGAD and regional actors in this.
I want to conclude by stating that Norway’s commitment to the people of South Sudan remains as strong as ever.
We look forward to the day when the promise of the 9th July 2011 is finally fulfilled.