The United Nations Security Council on Thursday renewed the mandate of UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) for another year and demanded that all parties involved in its ongoing conflict immediately end the fighting.
With the unanimous adoption of a resolution on the mandate extension until 15 March 2019, UNMISS) charged with performing tasks like protecting civilians, creating the conditions conducive to the delivery of humanitarian assistance, monitoring and investigating human rights violations, and supporting the peace process.
The Security Council, on Thursday, decided to maintain the overall force levels of UNMISS with a troop ceiling of 17,000 troops, which includes a regional protection force at levels to be set by the Secretary-General but not exceeding 4,000, and maintaining the ceiling of 2,101 police personnel, including individual police officers, formed police units and 78 corrections officers.
The 15-member body also demanded that all parties immediately end the fighting across the country, and further demanded that national leaders abide by the ceasefires agreed on 11 July 2016 and 22 May 2017, as well as the truce signed on 21 December 2017.
South Sudan’s ambassador to the world body, Moum Majak Ngor Malok welcomed renewal of UNMISS’s mandate, but lamented that the Council had chosen to politicize a peacekeeping resolution.
“There is a need to bridge the discrepancy between the primary responsibility of the state and the complementary support of the international community,” Malok told the 15-member Council.
He acknowledged that South Sudan was violently divided, but the leadership had been popularly elected, saying while it was practical to be connected to both parties and to foster national consensus, the world body should work in collaboration with the government.
“It is one thing to condemn the leadership of the country and another to threaten the imposition of an arms embargo and sanctions, which would only generate an adversarial relationship,” he stressed.
Malok said the only solution to the conflict was through a political process and that the president has made numerous compromises.
“UNMISS and the country team should discuss with the Government ways to use their strategic understanding as a basis for reaching out to the armed opposition,” remarked the South Sudanese diplomat.
He told the Council South Sudan’s conflict was political, not ethnic, in nature and that reports of genocide only instilled fear and the use of moral equivalence had only emboldened other armed groups.
Edmund Yakani, a South Sudanese activist, welcomed the Security Council’s decision, insisting the UNMISS indeed accommodated calls for strengthening Ceasefire Transitional and Monitoring Mechanism (CSTAMM), effective commitment on realization of the role of women in peace and security as per UNSC resolution (1325) as well as supporting the peace process.
“Although the mandate [of the UN mission in South Sudan] ignored the element of capacities building to some key institutions such as National Human Rights Commission and Police Services, it still it offers good role for UNMISS,” he said.
Yakani, however, said the challenge for effective execution of the mandate will be the culture of good faith and the proper collaboration between South Sudan government and UNMISS.
“In the past, the relation between government and UNMISS was much of confrontation, there is need to improve that for effective deliverance of the renewed mandate,” he stressed.
South Sudan attained independence from Sudan in July 2011 after a referendum, becoming the world’s newest country. The Security Council established UNMISS to support the transition, having determined that the situation faced by South Sudan continued to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region.
A civil war, which broke out in December 2013, has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions.