Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at the UNSC Briefing on the Situation in South Sudan
Statement21 June 2021
Like my colleagues before me, I want to appreciate the remarks made by Rajab Mohandis, and welcome the attendance of my colleague Permanent Representative Malwal.
May I join my colleagues by wishing you, Nicholas, a very warm welcome and sincere best wishes in your new role – a challenging one, no doubt, but one that we have every faith you can deliver upon. Many thanks also for your considered insights today.
In a few short weeks we will mark the ten-year anniversary of the independence of South Sudan. It remains incumbent upon all of us to ensure that the aspirations of the people who believed so much in the power and potential of that joyous moment can be fulfilled.
We must work to deliver above and beyond the promise of peace, which will simply no longer suffice. Promise and potential need to be translated into action and real change for the people of South Sudan.
As the Secretary General has noted, we have seen some important developments in the implementation of the Revitalised Agreement, such as the recent reconstitution of Parliament. We hope to soon see the signing of an MOU with the African Union on the long-awaited, and much needed, Hybrid Court.
Yet we also have to acknowledge that the pace of progress must be greatly accelerated, particularly as the way forward is clearly signposted. This includes benchmarks incorporated last month into the sanctions regime, setting out steps for potential future lifting of the arms embargo.
We continually hear that the ceasefire is holding. This cannot be taken for granted. However, the absence of active conflict is not enough when subnational violence continues unabated. It is not enough when the number of civilian killings is doubling year-on-year; it’s not enough when hunger is on the rise; and certainly not enough when the most vulnerable remain subjected to the most heinous treatment, including from those meant to protect them.
It is distressing to hear how challenging the humanitarian situation has become, with South Sudan now facing its highest level of food insecurity since independence, exacerbated by conflict, climate, and COVID.
Ireland is also deeply concerned by the rise in attacks on humanitarian workers. We appeal to South Sudanese authorities to better protect humanitarian personnel, and ensure accountability for those killed.
The rise in SOFA violations is completely unacceptable and must stop. We welcome the meeting of 31 May but we need urgently to see sustained efforts by the government of South Sudan to prevent and remove impediments to UNMISS’ work.
Ireland remains seriously concerned by the dire human rights and protection environment, which continues to disproportionately affect women and girls. The persistence of grave violations, including conflict-related sexual violence, against children, also remains worrying. We call on the government of South Sudan to hold the perpetrators accountable so as to break this recurring cycle of violence, to provide services for survivors, and to ensure justice and support for them. We call again for the swift establishment and operationalization of all of the transitional justice institutions mandated by the peace agreement.
Steps must also be taken to address the increase in subnational violence. On this point, I want to commend UNMISS’s prevention and containment efforts.
Like others, we look forward to elections being held in accordance with the Revitalized Agreement. However we strongly urge the incorporation of appropriate constitutional guarantees on a consensual basis in advance of any elections taking place.
Ireland sees the full, equal, and meaningful participation of women as a barometer of how a peace process is advancing. We know from experience that women’s involvement is critical to peace. Ireland deeply regrets that the 35% quota has not been met. and the associated opportunity for women to be involved in peacebuilding. We look forward to the development of a new National Action Plan on WPS for South Sudan to drive forward progress in this area.
A vibrant civil society is also essential to sustaining peace and we call for the expansion and security of civil society space where its diverse membership can thrive.
While we are cognizant of both the issues the country is grappling with, and of the conscious efforts it will take to alleviate them, let me state without agenda or judgement here today that as in 2011 Ireland believes in South Sudan.
It believes in the potential of its people, its women and youth in particular, as well as the pathways to peace that have been identified.
Furthermore, Ireland believes that further gains can and must be achieved.
It is now up to South Sudan to lead the way.