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Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at UNSC Briefing on South Sudan

Thank you Madame President; best wishes to you in your role as President this month and thank you to the UK for their presidency in February. Thank you, David, for your informative brief, for your leadership of UNMISS in such challenging circumstances over four years, and for your reflections today. We also appreciate our second briefer, Jackline Nasiwa, for her insights.


Madam President,


As the Secretary General has told us, the peace process is at a critical juncture. There has been some progress in areas of the implementation of the Revitalised Agreement, such as the appointment of 10 state governors, announcements in relation to the establishment of long-awaited transitional justice mechanisms and the Government’s intention to move forward on establishing a transitional legislature. Concrete follow up to such announcements is now needed. A positive move would be for example, signing the MOU with the African Union on the hybrid Court.


We certainly see engagement by regional bodies such as the AU and IGAD as key, but it must be accompanied by all parties maintaining their commitment to the ceasefire. Equally, we expect non-signatories to lay down their arms and to join the political process. The unfortunate reality remains, that levels of subnational violence remain unacceptably high.


Madam President,


The bloodshed faced by civilians is quite simply tragic. During 2020, [as we have heard], more than 2,000 civilians were killed in local conflicts. Ireland expresses serious concern over this violence. It results in a challenging human rights and protection environment, particularly for women and girls, as we heard in some detail today from Jackline.


Ireland strongly condemns all acts of conflict-related sexual violence in South Sudan. Such violence should never happen in the first place. However, when it does, South Sudanese authorities have a responsibility to protect victims and survivors, and to ensure the provision of holistic and survivor-centred support services, including sexual and reproductive health services. Perpetrators, regardless of rank or seniority, must be brought to justice. Prosecutions for conflict related sexual violence are welcome, but with under-reporting, and limited accountability, we fear these cases are but the tip of the iceberg.


Ireland urges the South Sudanese authorities to accelerate the establishment of all institutions of government, and to implement the 35% quota for women. We recognise the critical role of women and youth in peace-making and peacebuilding efforts, and urge the full, equal and meaningful participation of women at every stage of the constitution-making process. The truth is that there may be a link between the recent upsurge in violence and the gaps in state administration, including below the level of governor. So, Ireland encourages authorities to urgently establish the reconstituted legislative assembly and transitional security arrangements, with a particular need for policing services to be strengthened. Women should be fully represented in the arrangements. Their contribution will need to more sustainable outcomes. We all know that.


An overall security strategy that provides an inclusive and comprehensive framework for decision-making is fundamental critical for peace in South Sudan. The lack of movement on the establishment of the unified forces must also be rectified.


Ireland also expresses serious concern over the worrying humanitarian situation. Latest reports indicate that a staggering 48 per cent of the population are projected to face severe acute food insecurity this month. While we know that the causes of this situation are many and varied, it seems clear that climate change is having a negative impact. We need to help address this situation.


Madam President,


As this Council considers the renewal of the UNMISS mandate this month, Ireland believes one of the mission’s key roles continues to be the protection of civilians. It is critical that UNMISS to patrol areas where populations face most risk and threats. The Government of South Sudan has the responsibility to protect its citizens. We urge the government to fully protect its citizens in the transitioned camps and throughout the country where civilians are still suffering the effects of insecurity.


We would also urge the mission to ensure that any future transitions are carried out in full consultation with all relevant stakeholders, including the humanitarian community and transition only take place when the security situation allows, accompanied by robust risk assessment and mitigation. Experience alone teaches us that.

Finally, the reported Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) violations, especially in and around Juba, are deeply worrying. Such violations place the protection of civilians in jeopardy. Ireland calls on the South Sudanese authorities to ensure unhindered access to all UN operations in order to ensure essential support and protection to those in need, as enshrined in the SOFA Agreement.


Thank you, Madam President.

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