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Statement by Ambassador Christoph Heusgen in the Security Council VTC consultations on UNMISS and South Sudan Sanctions, December 15

15.12.2020 - Speech

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In comparison to Yemen, we did make some progress in the Council on South Sudan over the last two years. We did see implementation of some provisions of the Peace Agreement. We witnessed less violence in the country. We have the transitional government and most of the governors in place. Over the last two years, POC [protection of civilians] sites have been gradually transformed into IDP [internally displaced people] camps. We have made progress and I think we have to recognize that.

But unfortunately, we also still witness a lot of deficiencies and negative developments. There are still a number of critical tasks of the Revitalized Peace Agreement that are outstanding. The transitional security arrangements have not been implemented. We still do not have unified security forces. We do not have the transitional legislative assembly. We continue to see violence in several pockets in the country. The key transitional justice institutions have not been established. I would like to pick up what David Shearer [SRSG] said and underline how important it is that the transitional justice institutions are put in place. They are needed to fight impunity. There continue to be massive human rights violations. We have gender-based violence and we need impunity to stop. We need to have accountability. Otherwise we will not see peace and reconciliation in the country. This is a general theme. We discussed that yesterday about Yemen. We see it in Syria. Those of us who traveled to Colombia saw how important accountability is to the peace process. With regard to the involvement of women and civil society, the 35 percent objective has not been met.

The humanitarian situation is aggravated by the floods. In South Sudan, we have another example of the repercussions of climate change on security. We are alarmed that a large number of people are facing famine. Humanitarian workers find themselves increasingly at risk. Nine humanitarian workers killed are nine to too many. Those responsible for these murders have to be brought to justice.

I regret very much that the Ambassador of South Sudan is not here. We have asked before that he actually listens to these discussions. I think this is disrespectful to the Security Council. It is also disrespectful to the countries that send their blue helmets and police there and that are big donors of humanitarian aid. I would have asked the Ambassador to ask his Government to finally stop impeding UNMISS' ability move around the country. UNMISS is doing a fantastic job bringing peace and security to this country, and it is unacceptable that they don't have free access to all parts of the country. I would also have liked to ask the Ambassador to convey to the capital that there should be more financial transparency and expedited financial governance reforms in this country. We know that there are a lot of resources in this country. It is not comprehensible that a potentially rich country has a population that is facing famine. Much more has to be done. We just heard about the illegal exploitation of resources. This is something that UNMISS should look at.

We have in this Council broad agreement. The only major point of difference between us is with regard to sanctions. I just cannot follow the argument that we should lift sanctions and the arms embargo. We heard from David Shearer [SRSG] that we still do not have a unified security force. We have a fragmentation in the chain of command. We have some units that are ready to return to conflict. To lift the arms embargo in the situation is to ask for more conflict and for more victims. There was one argument saying because of COVID-19, we should lift sanctions. This is an argument I just cannot follow intellectually. I would propose that everybody who is desperate to send arms to South Sudan should instead increase the delivery of humanitarian goods. There are sanctioned individuals who have committed serious crimes and human rights violations. Do we want to actually promote impunity and have less accountability by lifting sanctions? No, I think sanctions are a very important factor in the stabilization of the peace process in South Sudan.

To finish, let me thank, my colleague, the Ambassador from Vietnam for doing the difficult task of chairing the sanctions committee. I would like to thank Mark Lowcock [USG OCHA] too. Last but not least, let me thank David Shearer [SRSG]. Over the last two years, I was very impressed by your work. Thank you very much for being very principled. I fully support your proposal with regard to the UNMISS review process to adapt UNMISS to the changing realities on the ground. I also think that we have to continue the job that you are doing and protect civilians in parts of the country where they still face threats.

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