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Russia slams U.S. position on South Sudan peace, abstains from voting UNMISS resolution

Russia's First Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitry Polyanskiy speaks at the Security Council on 15 March 2019 (UN Photo)
March 15, 2019 (NEW YORK) - The U.N. Security Council renewed a peacekeeping mission in South Sudan for an additional year; while Russia abstained from the vote accusing implicitly the U.S. of not backing the revitalized peace agreement and overburdening the draft resolution with language on human rights issues.

In a meeting held on Friday, the Security Council adopted the resolution 2459 (2019) under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter by a vote of 14 in favour to none against with one abstention (Russian Federation), the Council extended the Mission’s mandate until 15 March 2020.

Speaking during the meeting, the Russian First Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitry Polyanskiy stressed his country’s support to the peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.

Also, Polyanskiy said the peace South Sudanese peace partners have demonstrated readiness to compromise, and that significant progress has been registered since the revitalized agreement was signed.

He warned that "the stubborn refusal by some States to recognize the viability of the Khartoum Agreement ’sent the wrong message’ to the parties".

The Russian was referring to the penholder on South Sudan, the United States, as the initial draft resolution described the revitalized peace agreement “as a step forward in the peace process”

Upon the request of several members to change the text to a more positive language the draft resolution was amended to become that the R-ARCSS is “is an important step forward in the peace process that provides a window of opportunity to achieve sustainable peace and stability in South Sudan”.

The Russian diplomat further expressed concerns about the focus in the draft resolution on gender and human rights issues, " latter even taking priority over the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement," he said.

Finally, he pointed out that the United States as penholder did not submit the draft resolution to discussions at a special committee called "C34" which normally deliberate on issues related to peacekeeping matters.

He said the U.S. abused its prerogative as penholder and refused to take the perspectives of other delegations into account.

The adopted resolution provides that the UNMISS mandate will include: protection of civilians; fostering a secure environment for the safe, informed, voluntary and return or relocation of internally displaced persons and refugees; creating suitable conditions for the delivery of humanitarian assistance; monitoring and investigating human rights violations; and supporting implementation of the Revitalized Agreement and the peace process.

With regard to the Regional Protection Force, the Council agreed to make the necessary adjustments to UNMISS to match security conditions on the ground and support the peace implementation process.

The personnel ceiling for the Force, to be set by the Secretary-General, will not exceed 4,000 troops, the text however stressed.

For the IGAD forces, the Security Council expressed willingness to consider a review of the UNMISS mandate and the composition of its Regional Protection Force, after the parties negotiate permanent security arrangements and form the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity.