Norway welcomes the announcement that the HLRF will reconvene on 17 May 2018, and the fact that preparatory consultations are now underway. We hope that the consultations will bring a renewed sense of energy and commitment from the parties and will ultimately lead to lasting peace in South Sudan.
Previous rounds of talks delivered the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (COHA), signed on 21 December 2017, and the start of discussions on key political and security challenges facing South Sudan. However, the talks have so far failed to make sufficient progress to generate real commitment and compromise.
Meanwhile, fighting and troop movements are continuing on the ground, and the rhetoric of war is being used to push the country deeper and deeper into crisis. The human suffering is intolerable and unnecessary. The UN, the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (JMEC) and others have expressed concern at the surge in violent clashes in many parts of the country, and Norway shares their concern. The renewed violence on the ground undermines the prospects for peace and impedes humanitarian assistance.
It is vital that those who violate the COHA face the consequences of their actions, as IGAD has already stated. The African Union has also called for a clearer response. Impunity for the perpetrators is unacceptable. Failure to publish violation reports as required under the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) and a lack of accountability for violations will undermine the integrity and credibility of the peace process. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development's (IGAD) process must be underpinned by robust enforcement mechanisms.
We urge the countries in the region to speak with one voice and to back the revitalisation process and the enforcement of the COHA.
Alongside its Troika partners, Norway fully supports the IGAD process for revitalising the 2015 peace agreement. The can be no military solution to the conflict in South Sudan. Only the political will to compromise and the dedication to adhere to an inclusive negotiated agreement can bring peace and a long-term shift in conditions that will make it possible to hold elections in South Sudan.
Norway calls on all parties to make compromises during the upcoming session of the HLRF and to deliver an inclusive and revitalised peace agreement, for the benefit of the people of South Sudan and the region as a whole.