Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Sudan and South Sudan

Rodney Hunter
Political Coordinator
New York, New York
June 21, 2021


Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Special Representative Haysom, for your briefing today, and congratulations as you’ve taken on this new role. We commend you, as well the uniformed and civilian personnel of UNMISS, for your work to protect civilians, deter violence, support peacebuilding activities, and advocate for human rights – especially, as you noted, in today’s even more challenging environment. Mr. Mohandis, we greatly appreciate your briefing from the perspective of civil society in South Sudan. It’s essential that the Security Council continues to hear views such as yours as we consider next steps on this important issue. And we also welcome participation of the Representative of South Sudan in today’s briefing.

Mr. President, as Mr. Mohandis pointed out, in a few weeks, South Sudan will commemorate the 10-year anniversary of its independence. We recognize the pledge by South Sudan’s leaders to restore peace and stability in the country through implementation of the 2018 revitalized peace agreement, but we are concerned with the slow pace of progress. We strongly encourage South Sudan’s leaders to accelerate implementation of the peace agreement.

Last month, the Presidency announced appointments for the Transitional National Legislative Assembly, but members have yet to be sworn in. We urge the prompt finalization of the legislative assembly and the appointment and swearing in of the members of the Council of States so they can fulfill their duties as legislators. And we note the commitment by South Sudanese parties and stakeholders at last month’s constitutional workshop to a process that includes robust public consultation procedures to achieve a constitution that reflects the will of the people. Now, the transitional government should deliver on this commitment expeditiously.

The United States views free and fair elections in South Sudan that are both timely and peaceful as essential for sustaining peace and stability in the country. We call on the transitional government to develop the institutional and legal framework necessary to ensure elections are peaceful and reflect the will of the people. This includes ensuring the full, equal, and meaningful participation of women in elections. The United States looks forward to the results of the UN needs assessment on the electoral process currently underway. Delays in implementing transitional security arrangements in the peace agreement remain a significant barrier to progress. The transitional government must follow through on its commitment to expedite the graduation of the Necessary Unified Forces and the establishment of a joint command.

Claims by some South Sudanese officials that the UN arms embargo prevents graduation of Necessary Unified Forces are disingenuous. The arms embargo, which was recently renewed by this Council, includes straightforward exemption procedures should South Sudan require arms and materiel necessary for implementation of the peace agreement. We call on South Sudanese officials to work together with the Security Council on achieving the benchmarks in Resolution 2577 so that we can consider appropriate adjustments to the sanctions regime.

The United States is also alarmed at the rise of subnational violence in South Sudan, often involving large and well-equipped armed groups, sometimes with support from political actors and members of the security services. We deplore the violence against civilians, which has been documented by UNMISS, including extrajudicial killings and sexual and gender-based violence. This year has also seen a significant increase in the killing of, and attacks on, humanitarian personnel. We call on South Sudan’s leaders to take immediate and effective measures to protect civilians, humanitarian workers, and internally displaced persons, and to hold accountable those responsible for attacks on humanitarians.

South Sudanese authorities continue to obstruct ceasefire monitors and peacekeepers, and this is unacceptable. Ongoing restrictions on UNMISS patrols and movements – as reported by UNMISS – violate obligations under the Status of Forces Agreement. These restrictions put civilians and UNMISS personnel at risk. We call on South Sudan’s leaders to cease obstruction of the mission and to view UNMISS for what it is – a full partner in the process of transition.

Mr. President, the United States remains committed to the people of South Sudan and to working closely with the transitional government, the Security Council, and all stakeholders to enable peace and prosperity for the country and for the region.

Thank you, Mr. President.