January 22, 2017 (JUBA) – The United Nations under-secretary general for peacekeeping operations, Herve Ladsous will on Monday brief the Security Council members on South Sudan.
The security, humanitarian and human rights situation in South Sudan remains dire, amidst a faltering political process and ongoing concerns that inter-communal violence could spiral out of control.
Ladsous’ briefing is expected to focus on the confidential 30-day report to the 15-member Council on planning for the deployment of the Regional Protection Forces (RPF) and obstructions to UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
South Sudanese officials were recently quoted expressing reservations about the deployments of the protection forces.
On 13 January, information minister, Michael Makuei Lueth said that while the government did not object to the force, the Council would need to adopt a new resolution with respect to the Force, as its initial mandate under resolution 2304 had expired on 15 December 2016.
The mandate of the regional protection forces was re-authorised by the Council through resolution 2327 adopted on 16 December 2016.
Another issues of concern, it has emerged, regards the issue of visas and the Council members are interested in knowing where South Sudan government would issue out visas for members of the RPF.
Meanwhile, the Council members are also scheduled to hold an informal interactive dialogue with Festus Mogae, the chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) tasked with overseeing the implementation of South Sudan peace agreement.
The Security Council is reportedly interest in hearing from Mogae and Ladsous about their impressions of the national dialogue process that South Sudan President, Salva Kiir announced on 19 December 2016.
During the meeting, however, key issues that could be raised with regard to the national dialogue include how to ensure that it is conducted in an inclusive manner without fear and intimidation, and whether or not conditions are suitable for the dialogue to occur in South Sudan or whether another venue may be more suitable.
Also likely to feature during these consultative meeting could be how the UN plans to work with the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on the mediation process.
“A key question that may be raised is whether to include opposition leader Riek Machar in the political process, and if so, how this could be done,” partly reads an insight, which Sudan Tribune has obtained, on activities of the 15-member Council.
Machar, currently in South Africa, may have fled Juba in July 2016, after his forces clashed with government troops, but continues to maintain a considerable following in South Sudan, with many of his supporters fighting against government forces.
There have been concerns for several months now about the potential for mass atrocities to be committed in the young nation.
Fighting has been reported in several parts of the country, much of it along ethnic lines, with the UN earlier warning of possible genocide.
“Members will be interested in an assessment from Mogae and Ladsous on the security and human right situation in South Sudan. Of interest to some members might be the activities of the UN working group designed to develop strategies to prevent mass atrocities in South Sudan, jointly chaired by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide,” the insig
It further states, “Consistent with the mandate of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, Mogae may be able to give an overview of the location and nature of ceasefire violations in recent months, as well as to discuss efforts to canton opposition troops”.
While speaking during his monthly luncheon on 9 January, the new UN Secretary-General António Guterres raised key issues with South Sudanese officials, including the importance of revitalising the political process, the need to deploy the RPF, which the Council first authorised in August 2016 to, among other things, protect UN staff, humanitarian actors and civilians in Juba, as well as the importance of raising awareness of the risk of atrocities in South Sudan.
This will be the first time Council members will meet on South Sudan since they failed to adopt the 23 December 2016 draft resolution that would have imposed an arms embargo on South Sudan and targeted sanctions on three government and opposition leaders.
Despite UN warnings of possible genocide in Africa’s newest nation, the Security Council voted on 23 December, 2016, to reject a U.S.-sponsored resolution calling for an arms embargo and targeted sanctions, with Russia and its allies accusing Washington of ignoring President Kiir’s calls recent advocacy for a national dialogue.
The draft resolution thus received only seven affirmative votes and nine abstentions.