December 13, 2022 (NEW YORK) – While noticeable progress was made in the implementation of South Sudan’s peace agreement, more action is needed for the new roadmap on transition, a United Nations official said.
Nicholas Haysom, head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) was on Tuesday briefing members of the Security Council on the political, humanitarian and human rights developments in Africa’s newest nation.
In August, South Sudan’s unity government announced a two-year extension of the post-civil war transitional period, due to end in 2023, in a new roadmap to the peace deal signed in September 2018.
The end of the transitional period was scheduled for 2022 after several postponements, but was pushed back to February 2023 due to the lack of progress on many provisions of the country’s peace accord.
“We hold the view that the roadmap is a second mortgage on the Revitalized Peace Agreement; one which must be repaid in good faith and within the stipulated timeframes,” Haysom told the Security Council.
The top UN official said progress has included passage of essential bills and the legislature’s ratification of the roadmap, which extends the current transitional period by 24 months, paving the way for elections.
“As moral guarantors and partners of that agreement, our collective task is to ensure that the parties have the best possible international support to help them fulfill their commitments to the people of South Sudan,” he said.
Haysom explained that he has underlined the need for consistent and continued progress on roadmap benchmarks in his engagements with President Salva Kiir, his first deputy Riek Machar and other national leaders.
“We urge stakeholders to conceive of the roadmap not as a box-ticking exercise, but rather a qualitative process to lay the proper foundations for a stable and democratic nation,” he stressed.
The UN official expressed concerns that deadlines for the Political Parties Act, the reconstituted National Constitutional Review Commission, and the establishment of the Constitutional Drafting Committee have been missed.
“We consistently remind the South Sudanese that the two-year extension should not be regarded as a holiday break. We are concerned that delays are already having a domino effect on subsequent key benchmarks,” he remarked.
Haysom also drew the Security Council attention to the security situation in Upper Nile state, saying the violence had now taken an ethnic dimension.
He condemned the killings, conflict related sexual violence as well as large-scale civilian displacement in Upper Nile State.
Meanwhile Haysom warned that credible elections cannot take place if tensions continue to simmer and intensify as the election date draws closer.
“UNMISS will remain steadfast in prioritizing the protection of civilians in all aspects of our mandates and tasks: whether responding to pressing protection needs, like sub-national violence, or supporting a broader peace to take root, one that is underpinned by institutions of justice, human rights and accountability,” said the UN official.
He added, “These efforts will go a long way to support an expansion of civic and political space and a culture of nonviolent debate and dispute resolution.”
As estimated 9.4 million people in South Sudan out of a population of roughly 12 million will require support and protection in 2023, aid agencies say.
Nine aid workers were killed in the line of duty this year alone, Haysom said.
Many provisions of the 2018 agreement remain unimplemented, partly due to ongoing disputes between the two rivals.
Since independence, the world’s youngest country has been plagued by politico-ethnic violence and chronic instability.
Despite immense oil resources, it is also one of the poorest countries in the world and has been hit hard by an economic and food crisis.