Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Situation in South Sudan (via VTC)

Rodney Hunter
Political Coordinator
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
June 23, 2020


Thank you, Madam President, and thank you, Special Representative Shearer for your briefing and your tireless leadership in support of stability in South Sudan.

Mr. Yakani, we’d also like to thank you for your steadfast commitment to advocating for peace in South Sudan. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you and other civil society advocates as you strive for the peace and security the South Sudanese people so richly deserve.

The people of South Sudan are facing monumental challenges as they confront both escalating violence and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The United States remains concerned about increasing violence in Jonglei State, including widespread sexual and gender-based violence. This has already killed at least 600 individuals this year and resulted in the abduction of 150 women and girls. The violence, which is spreading to other parts of the country, risks eroding gains in the peace process which this Council has sought to support.

The continued delays in the peace process are unacceptable. While there has been an agreement on the political formula to be used for appointing governors, the actual appointments and implementation of security arrangements need to occur in short order. A priority in all of this should be the meaningful participation of women.

Existing humanitarian programs must be supported and allowed to continue even in the face of the additional challenges posed by COVID-19. The United States supports South Sudan’s efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, but we cannot accept the government’s using the virus as a pretext to curtail freedom of movement for UNMISS. Even more egregious is South Sudan’s denials of internal MEDEVAC flights for UNMISS staff. This must stop, and it must stop now. Given these challenges, we look forward to hearing how the UN is protecting its personnel who contract COVID-19.

As a Council members, we must not lose sight of the important progress we have sought to advance in South Sudan, such as the forming of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity. This requires additional steps to become fully functional, and we can no longer tolerate any setbacks.

Moving forward, then, we call on the Intergovernmental Authority on Development – IGAD – to appoint a permanent and empowered Chairperson of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission. African political leadership is essential to drive the peace process forward and end the violence.

The United States is committed to working closely with the Transitional Government and its partners to implement the peace agreement and ensure a better future for the people of South Sudan. However, we expect South Sudan’s leaders to govern together as one government, and work in the best interest of its citizens.

A government working together would respond immediately to address outbreaks of violence anywhere in the country. A government working together would look to UNMISS and the UN as a valuable partner not only in providing safety and security for its citizens, but also in addressing the COVID-19 crisis. A government working together would recognize the essential role played by humanitarian partners in delivering much needed assistance.

Unfortunately, we still do not see the Transitional Government working together. We recognize the challenges posed by COVID-19, but we see the pandemic as an opportunity to strengthen cooperation between all of the parties and stakeholders in the Transitional Government.

The United States remains committed to full implementation of the peace agreement – just as we remain committed to the people of South Sudan at this most pressing time.

Thank you, Madam President.