South Sudan faces a ‘make or break’ year on the road to lasting peace


“We see 2023 as a make or break year and as a test for all parties to the peace agreement,” said Nicholas Haysom, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). .

He informed the Council about the UN Secretary General’s latest report on South Sudan priority action plan for the critical phase of implementation of the nation’s 2018 peace deal, designed to end a devastating civil war.

He also shared progress and reflections during the reporting period from December 1 to February 15, which saw growing humanitarian needs in the midst of violence, displacement, hunger, climate shocks and public health.

‘Strong choice’

“The leadership of South Sudan now faces a difficult choice,” he said. “They can take a path of mutual cooperation and reconciliation in the urgent implementation of their peace agreement, or they can take a low path that prioritizes self-interest and conflict over nation-building.”

I report limited progress in implementing the agreement and roadmap to peace, Mr. Haysom welcoming the commitment of the caretaker government, but said the current “slippages” in meeting agreed timelines remain a concern. Following parties extending the timelines by two years, he said that “neither stakeholders nor the international community intend to consider further extensions”.

“We think there are a few main obstacles that the parties must approve in order to successfully position South Sudan to complete the final part of the transition phase,” he added, pointing to several areas of action.

Including new constitution, elections

Drafting a new constitution is a crucial opportunity to promote harmony and prevent a repeat of the civil strife that has defined the past decade, he said. This requires an inclusive process that gives a voice to all South Sudanese, including marginalized communities, he said, calling on the government to speed up the processincluding ending Parliament’s long recess.

Following a request from the government for help ahead of the scheduled elections in 2024, he said an assessment mission in 2021 indicates efforts should focus on creating the architecture and climate for safe elections.

“There is a need for speed up all the preparatory work now,” he said, urging the caretaker government to finalize the legal framework and reconstruction of the National Election Commission.

UN photo/Rick Bajornas

Nicholas Haysom, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of the UN Mission in South Sudan, briefed the Security Council on the situation in Sudan and South Sudan.

Expand the civilian space

Expanding social and political space “will be a determine the legacy of the transitional period”, he emphasized. “It constitutes the ultimate criteria by which the credibility of the election process will be judged and determined foundation for a stable democracy that can prevent further conflicts.”

UNMISS for its part does involve stakeholders to ask critical questions about promoting a safe public space, he said.

He also took note of messages arising from the recent one International Conference on Women’s Transformational Leadership, held in the South Sudanese capital Juba. Calls to action at the rally pushed for more protected space for women and girls embrace their role as change agents“, he said.

Wave of violence

The final hurdles relate to humanitarian conditions and security, he continued. He called for an urgent start to strengthen and deploy the so-called Necessary Unified Forces – a truly national army, police and coherent security operation – saying they could be “either an asset or a disadvantage during the transition”.

Concerned about waves of intercommunal violence, true ethnic or tribal dimensions threaten to unravel hard-won peace gainshe expressed his shock at a recent cycle of kill revenge and the unacceptable practice of kidnapping and using gender-based violence as a means of war.

With civil protection as the “heartbeat” of the UN mission, he took note of the seven human rights reports published by UNMISS, which include recommendations for improving the areas of justice, accountability and reconciliation.

In addition, UNMISS has requested UN Headquarters to conduct a capacity study to consider whether there is a case for strengthening uniformed deployment within its authorized mandate ahead of the election cycle.

“This priorities all reinforce each other,” he said. “There is still plenty of time to achieve the ideals, goals and timelines set out in the peace agreement. We would like to believe that the South Sudanese would make the most of this quick closing opportunity.”

He noted that climate shocks and conflicts continue to affect the humanitarian situation, he told the stream $1.7 billion response plan to reach 6.8 million people in need, only three percent remains funded.

Tareq Talahma, acting director of the Operations and Advocacy Department of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), briefed the UN Security Council meeting on the situation in Sudan and South Sudan.

UN photo/Rick Bajornas

Tareq Talahma, acting director of the Operations and Advocacy Department of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), briefed the UN Security Council meeting on the situation in Sudan and South Sudan.

Deteriorating humanitarian needs

Elaborating on the current deteriorating situation, Tareq Talahma, acting director of the Operations and Advocacy Department at the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said the needs are at record levels.

In 2023, 9.4 million – 76 percent of South Sudan’s population — may need humanitarian aid, he said. An estimated 7.8 million people may experience food insecurity, and many face catastrophic conditions, including more than 1.2 million children under the age of five facing acute malnutrition.

Summarizing that, conflicts led to major displacement, and climate change shocks have further fueled humanitarian needs, he said.

Despite South Sudan being one of the most dangerous places for humanitarian aid workers, partners have reached 5 million people with aid.

Call for early action

However, early action is of vital importanceto prevent further sufferinghe said, adding that OCHA is seeking to expand efforts to reach more than 2.2 million people who remain internally displaced, some since 2013.

Sustainable solutions are needed, he said, citing examples of ongoing efforts, including a four-year strategic development plan to support communities affected by conflict and disaster.

At a time when there is an urgent need for secure access to reach those in need, cooperative international efforts must address the driversof the ongoing crisishe said, asking the Security Council for support.

“Together, we need to do more in 2023,” he said. “We urge all actors to ensure de-escalation of the violence and to honor commitments.”

Human Rights Council

To address the current situation and ongoing concerns, the UN Human Rights Council will most recent report on South Sudan on Tuesday.

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