Explanation of Vote at the Adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2352 on the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei

Ambassador Michele J. Sison
U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
May 15, 2017


Thank you, Mr. President. We welcome the Security Council’s decision today to extend the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei, UNISFA, mandate for another six months. This was the right decision. UNISFA provides critical security to the Abyei area and helps communities that live in, and travel through, Abyei to prevent and mitigate violence. We are grateful to Ethiopia for the very significant role it plays in maintaining peace and security in Abyei.

The United States fully concurs with the Secretary-General’s assessment that the conflict over Abyei is a political problem that requires a political solution. And, as we all discussed in this Chamber during the April briefing on peacekeeping, when the Security Council considers whether a peacekeeping operation is the right tool for us to use in the maintenance of peace and security, we must consider whether the mission supports a political solution.

In reviewing UNISFA’s mandate, the United States carefully considered whether the mission was appropriately aligned to the will of the parties and to the current security situation in Abyei.

Regrettably, since 2011 the governments of Sudan and South Sudan have consistently lacked commitment to engage in the work necessary to resolve Abyei’s final status, and to establish the interim measures previously agreed to by the governments of Sudan and South Sudan to jointly administer and police the Abyei Area.

In addition Sudan and South Sudan continue to place restrictions on UNISFA, inhibiting its ability to carry out the very mandate both states requested.

When we took the decision to authorize UNISFA, and when we subsequently added tasks in support of the joint border monitoring mission, there was a clear commitment from both Sudan and South Sudan to carry out certain steps and a request for the UN to support their efforts. While UNISFA has done its part, Sudan and South Sudan have not taken the necessary steps to fully operationalize the Joint Border Verification Monitoring Mechanism, JBVMM.

We continue to support the JBVMM concept, but five years of obstacles to deployment of the mission is enough. Until these parties remove the obstacles and take the steps towards making this mechanism effective, UNISFA will not be able to fully carry out its mandate.

This speaks to a broader point applicable to all peacekeeping missions. This Council should not indefinitely support mandates which lack the strategic consent of the parties. When we are faced with these challenges, we must use the leverage we have to ensure our peacekeeping operations are effective. This includes demanding that states who are benefitting from our missions comply with their agreements with the United Nations and with each other. If they do not, then it is our job to take action.

Therefore, we welcome the Council’s decision that this will be the last extension of UNISFA’s mandate to support the border monitoring mechanism unless the parties can clearly demonstrate through their actions, including through the steps outlined in this resolution, that they are achieving the full functioning of this mechanism. It is incumbent on all of us as Council members to question the status quo when we have recognized that the status quo is not working.

The United States is committed to helping to support security and stability in Abyei, Sudan, South Sudan, and the region. We urge a reinvigorated political process, leading to a permanent solution for the status of Abyei. We also call on the governments of Sudan and South Sudan to honor their commitments to support UNISFA’s full deployment and remove all obstacles to its operation.

Thank you, Mr. President.