Statement by Ambassador Christoph Heusgen during the UN Security Council VTC Meeting on UNMISS, September 16, 2020

16.09.2020 - Speech

Check Against Delivery

Thanks to [SRSG] David Shearer for your efforts under very difficult circumstances, which have been aggravated by COVID-19. In this respect, thank you for what your mission is doing with regard to COVID-19 and your assistance to the National Response Plan and the national and state authorities in upgrading their medical capabilities.

I want to take up something that was said by the representative of the United States: Why does the government [of South Sudan] sometimes consider UNMISS more of an enemy than a partner? Why does the government continue to restrict the Peacekeeping Mission’s movement and that of U.N. personnel, which impedes lifesaving and critical work carried out by peacekeepers? We urge the authorities to finally remove all entry and access restrictions and other operational impediments placed on the mission. Mr. Chairman, we used to have the ambassador or a representative of South Sudan participating in this meeting. Yet today just like last time, there is no representative of South Sudan here. This astonished me. In December, when South Africa has the presidency, maybe you can send an invitation to the South Sudanese representative so that he can also listen to what we have to say and respond.

Thanks David [Shearer] also for what you said about the independent strategic review: that you welcome this, that you won't ask in principle for new funding, but the Mission will become more robust and work smarter. Working smarter always garners applause. You touched upon the protection of civilian sites. I follow your argument that this cannot go on for eternity. But at the same time, when you redesign the PoC [Protection of Civilian] sites to IDP camps or basically suburbs of Juba or other cities, it can only be done in full transparency and close consultation and cooperation with IDP representatives, humanitarian partners and state authorities. We heard the concern by our civil society briefer who was very clear on that issue.

On the political situation, the reform process and the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement has been going forward. But as David [Shearer] said, there is slow progress and critical tasks are still outstanding. The key question of transitional security arrangements and the formation of unified security forces in line with the provisions of the peace agreement is hardly moving forward at all.

We are concerned about the escalating violence across the country and what you describe there is really worrying. The government and all the partners to the revitalized peace agreement have to do more. I am very grateful for IGAD [Intergovernmental Authority on Development] and in particular the Special Envoy for South Sudan, Ambassador Ismail Weiss, for contributing to the peace process. Maybe in the closed meeting, you can say a bit more about what the external actors are that fuel conflict.

I welcome that the government has started to interact with donors on public finances management. Yet David [Shearer] clearly said there continues to be a lack of financial accountability. I think this has to be a priority. This country is potentially rich, even if the oil prices go down. This country has a lot of possibilities to finance public projects for those who are in need. We heard a lot about the suffering population, so we desperately need more financial accountability and transparency on the part of the Government.

I want to echo what José Singer [Permanent Representative Dominican Republic] just said with regard to women's participation. I  commend what the briefer today said about women's participation. It's very clear the peace agreement said 35 percent of state governors must be women. With 10 governors, there must be at least three or four women governors, not only one, but that applies also to all institutions, of which none has yet fulfilled the 35 percent quota. We need more involvement of women and civil society in the peace process. We know from studies that peace is sustained only when women are involved fully, effectively and meaningfully.

The humanitarian situation in South Sudan is terrible. Persistent violence, COVID-19 and seasonal floods have exacerbated the already dire humanitarian situation. The ongoing attacks and killings of humanitarian workers and ambushes of clearly marked ambulance are unacceptable. South Sudan remains one of the most dangerous environments for humanitarian assistance. Our thanks go to UNMISS for making the environment safer, but much remains to be done. Bringing the perpetrators to justice in South Sudan is key. What I heard from the briefing was very encouraging, in that there are citizens working with a bottom-up approach to achieve justice. But we have to do more and build on the good work of the mobile courts that are being supported by UNMISS. We would like to redouble these efforts and take steps to fully establish the transitional justice system as it is stipulated in the agreement.

I would have liked to have the ambassador of South Sudan here, as I want to express my complete incomprehension at the promotion of senior SSPDF [South Sudan People’s Defence Forces] commanders who had previously been identified UNMISS human rights division investigations as being involved in serious human rights violations. Two of these individuals are even included on the United Nations sanctions list, yet have been promoted to the military high command in Juba. This is totally unacceptable. We all should express towards the government of South Sudan that this is something that just disqualifies the government. What we heard about the continuation of sexual violence is unacceptable.

In conclusion, the people of South Sudan deserve better. Their leaders in the region and international community must live up to their responsibility. Germany will continue to stand by the people of South Sudan through our contribution to UNMISS and humanitarian stabilization development assistance. I call on all of us to redouble our efforts to make peace in South Sudan a reality. But without the government assuming responsibility and good governance, we will not succeed.

Thank you.

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