Members of the Council,
- I would like to thank the President of the Security Council, H.E. Abdellatif Aboulatta, for his kind invitation to me to brief the Security Council today.
- Today here in Juba I chaired the monthly JMEC Plenary, so I come to you via video-link from the UNMISS base. On a matter of housekeeping before I begin, I would like to note that I shall issue the pending JMEC quarterly report by the end of this month, as mandated under Chapter Seven of the Peace Agreement. I trust it will reach you all in good time.
- You will recall that in my briefing to you last month, I described the “one voice” initiative and the process by which IGAD mandated the convening of a High Level Revitalisation Forum for the Peace Agreement in South Sudan.
- I was very grateful for the unanimous support of the members of the Security Council for this IGAD initiative. Your support and endorsement delivers a strong message to all South Sudanese leaders that the world is watching and has high expectations of a rapid and sustained improvement in the overall situation in South Sudan.
- Last week the second anniversary of the signing of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan passed relatively unnoticed.
- Our perception at the time of the signing of the Peace Agreement in August 2015 was that it had ended a tragic internal conflict that had threatened to tear Africa’s youngest nation apart and it was hoped that disagreements amongst the Parties over substantive issues had been resolved.
- The Peace Agreement brought JMEC into being and we believed that our task would be simply to oversee and guide its implementation by the TGoNU.
- By now the Peace Agreement should have achieved considerable progress towards improved security and governance in this country. From day one, however, we have had to persuade the Parties to implement each and every task.
- Disagreements between the key principals and the lack of any appetite for compromise, slowed progress to a standstill and led to a growing tension in Juba that ultimately resulted in the violence of July 2016 and its continuing repercussions. Two years on since the signing of the Peace Agreement there has been little meaningful progress in its implementation.
10. Since July 2016, we, as JMEC, have remained profoundly shocked by the rampant hostilities across the country and the rapid deterioration of the political, security, humanitarian and economic situation in South Sudan. As a result, we are now rightly absorbed in a process to restore and revitalise the prominence of the Peace Agreement.
- In the past month, the security situation in the former Upper Nile State has worsened due to the recent offensive operations by forces of the SPLA-IG against the SPLA-IO (Machar faction) in Matthiang and Pagak.
- In today’s Plenary, I condemned all the violence that has occurred in and around Pagak over the past month and urged that military operations cease immediately. I also urged all Parties involved to facilitate CTSAMM’s access to investigate and report on the situation in Pagak.
- In this month that we have marked World Humanitarian Day, tens of thousands of people in Upper Nile have been forced to flee their homes, and humanitarian aid workers had no choice but to relocate from the area and suspend delivery of support to those in need.
- This cycle of violence, displacement and deprivation of humanitarian support has been repeated around the country over the past year and has led to untold misery among those who seek only to live peacefully and provide for their families.
- Over the past week, there has been some unfortunate confusion and dispute over the deployment of advance elements of the Regional Protection Force. One impact of this dispute was the temporary grounding of all UN flights which had a direct impact on the operations of CTSAMM. This is deeply regretable and I urge TGoNU to resolve issues with UNMISS swiftly and facilitate the deployment of this force without further hindrance, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2304 (2016).
- To that end, I have further urged IGAD to convene the meeting between the TGoNU, UNMISS and the Chiefs of Defence Forces of the Troop Contributing Countries, as specified in the IGAD Communique of 12th June 2017. This meeting has not yet taken place and as a result, key issues affecting the practical deployment of this Force have not been addressed and serious challenges are arising.
17. The IGAD Council of Ministers met on 24th July 2017, for the first time in Juba. In their Communique that day, the Council of Ministers empowered the IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan to coordinate the revitalization process, including all stakeholders and institutions charged with responsibility for the implementation of the Peace Agreement. The Council also urged all South Sudanese stakeholders to embrace the objectives of the High Level Revitalisation Forum and collaborate with the IGAD Special Envoy to achieve a positive outcome.
18. It is essential to stress a number of issues regarding this Revitalisation Forum in order to ensure full understanding:
i. The Revitalisation Forum is an IGAD initiative mandated by the Summit of Heads of State and Government and executed by the Council of Ministers through the office of the new IGAD Special Envoy. Our role, as JMEC, is to support IGAD in its efforts to convene this Forum.
- Whilst the Forum sets out with three objectives – 1) to reinstate the Permanent Ceasefire; 2) to reinstate full and inclusive implementation of the Peace Agreement; and 3) to develop revised and realistic timelines for implementation towards elections at the end of the transition period – the outcomes of the Forum are not pre-determined.
- It will be for the Parties and estranged groups to determine and commit to the outcomes of this Forum. After all, in the end, the responsibility for the implementation of the Peace Agreement lies squarely with these same Parties.
- This is a Forum through which to explore options that can restore the prominence of the peace process taking account of current realities. It is our hope that this revitalisation process will be pursued in the spirit of peace, inclusivity and compromise.
- In JMEC’s perspective, for the Revitalisation process to succeed, there is need for demonstrable political will by the Parties and estranged groups to be inclusive and to accommodate one another politically, rather than defeat each other militarily.
- We must all speak with “one voice” to the leaders of South Sudan and align our actions. There should be clear consequences for intransigent groups, spoilers and violations.
- The Parties must commit to adhere to any revised timelines and implementation schedules and there is need to determine and secure adequate funding for implementation of the revitalised Peace Agreement.
I thank you, Mr President.