Since the latest conflict in South Sudan began more than five years ago, government and opposition forces and their allied militias have consistently targeted civilians and deliberately obstructed humanitarian agencies from reaching people in need and attacking humanitarian workers. Government and opposition forces have attacked health facilities and schools, burnt villages and looted civilian property, exacerbating a dire humanitarian situation and contributing to the creation of yet another lost generation.
A succession of ceasefires, and two peace agreements, have been signed since the crisis erupted in December 2013, all of which have been violated within a matter of days.
Parties to the conflict continue to commit crimes under international law and other serious human rights violations with near total impunity, wanton brutality and a complete disregard for human life. The government’s failure to hold to account alleged perpetrators of crimes under international law signals to them that their actions will go unpunished, and helps perpetuate the destructive cycles of violence, revenge attacks and conflict in the country.
This situation and the hostile operating environment has made it difficult for the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to fulfil the four pillars of its mandate, namely: to protect civilians, help create conditions for the delivery of humanitarian assistance, monitor and report on human rights violations and abuses, and support the implementation of the peace agreement.
However, UNMISS still has a crucial role to play in South Sudan and the upcoming review of its mandate offers an opportunity to reflect on the changes needed to enable it to effectively execute its mandate.
To begin with, the Security Council should make strong demands on the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) to immediately take concrete and verifiable steps to improve this environment, and the Security Council must be ready to maintain and impose further travel bans and seize financial assets of individuals who are suspected of perpetrating crimes under international law or serious other human rights violations, or misusing public resources to finance such crimes or violations.
The full letter with further explanations can be found here.