Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
December 14, 2023
Thank you, Mr. President. I want to start by thanking Special Representative Haysom for his briefing today, and for his leadership and participation at the UN Peacekeeping Ministerial last week in Accra, where we met. I also want to thank Ambassador Biang for his briefing as Chair of the 2206 Committee and welcome the participation of South Sudan in this meeting.
Colleagues, I am saddened that so little has changed since the last time we gathered for this purpose. The United States wholeheartedly agrees that the root cause for implementation delays of the Revitalized Agreement since its signing five years ago is the lack of political will. I should not have to remind the transitional government of its obligations to the people of South Sudan. They expect and deserve a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic future.
As the SRSG just highlighted, the same issues identified six months ago remain unresolved. Basic questions around who will vote, how they will vote, and which levels of government they will vote for, are all still unanswered.
When the transitional government has done so little to prepare for elections, providing additional funding for these elections sends absolutely the wrong message. Assessed contributions should not be going to an electoral process that – without urgent action by the transitional government – will not be free, fair, or credible. Future funding must be coupled with a renewed push on the South Sudan peace process, and improved humanitarian access.
In addition, I want to take a moment to talk about how the transitional government is spending its own oil money, or more accurately, how the transitional government is not spending its own oil money. Because the transitional government has the resources to fund electoral institutions, Necessary Unified Forces, social services like healthcare, and a greater share of humanitarian assistance to its own people. It can also afford to pay for its own employees, both civilian and military, in a timely manner.
Colleagues, the South Sudanese people have a fundamental right to know how their country’s oil money is being spent – and to benefit from how their country’s oil money is being spent. And so, the transitional government must start using public revenue transparently for appropriate public purposes.
In addition, we remain concerned by the high level of violence, criminality, and human rights abuses in South Sudan.
Last week, we designated Gordon Koang Biel, Gatluak Nyang Hoth, and Joseph Mantiel Wajang as responsible for systematic rape and other human rights violations perpetrated against women and girls during armed attacks in Leer County of Unity State. These armed groups used sexual slavery, including rape and gang rape, of abducted women and girls as an incentive and reward for combatants. This is unimaginably cruel. And so, we call on President Kiir to fulfill his pledge to hold those who committed these unthinkable acts, accountable.
To that end, we are grateful for UNMISS’ efforts to fulfill its protection of civilians mandate, and in particular – safeguard the more than forty thousand people in the Malakal POC site – noting the issues raised in the external assessment by Mr. Tamrat Samuel.
We welcome UNMISS’ zero tolerance approach to SEA and conduct issues. And we look forward to updates on the results of investigations following the September 2022 Al-Jazeera report on sexual abuse by aid workers at UN-run Malakal POC site.
In addition to these efforts, UNMISS’ engagement on the peace process – both internally and externally – is bolstering that process, facilitating dialogue, educating on governance and electoral issues, and fostering respect for the rule of law.
Finally, we welcome UNMISS and South Sudan cooperation on women, peace, and security issues, including this year’s National Stakeholder Conference on sexual and gender-based violence.
In closing, as the SRSG made clear, the transitional government faces a number of choices. Of whether to achieve the commitments in the 2018 peace agreement that are necessary for it to hold free and fair, peaceful elections in 12 months. Whether to use its abundant public revenue appropriately – it’s not acceptable that two-thirds of the Sudanese people are food insecure. And whether to hold perpetrators of human rights violations, including sexual and gender-based violence, accountable.
Today, we once again call on the transitional government to make the right choices. Twelve years after achieving its independence, 12 years after celebrating its hard-earned fight for sovereignty, it is way past time for the transitional government to make the right choices. It is time.
Thank you, Mr. President.