UN: South Sudan peace process needs urgent attention to prevent violence escalating

The international community urgently needs to pay more attention to the escalating violence proliferating at a local level all over South Sudan, warned United Nations-appointed human rights experts during a visit to New York which concluded Sunday.

In a press statement on Monday, Yasmin Sooka, the Chairperson of the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan said: “In meetings with United Nations officials here we tried to get across the message that it is critical donors and member states continue to monitor the peace agreement, security sector reform and ensure constitutional legislation is pushed through before elections.”

She adds, “Without these steps, we are likely to see millions more South Sudanese displaced or crossing borders, creating havoc for neighboring countries and aid agencies.”   

On 4 August 2022, parties to the 2018 Revitalized Peace Agreement for South Sudan signed a further two-year extension of the transitional governance arrangements, postponing elections until late 2024. As of now the shape of the electoral system remains undefined. Additionally, elections require a conducive environment but South Sudanese who have questioned the government or exposed atrocities have received death threats, been detained or tortured, with the political space shrinking. 

The Peace Agreement included a national consultation process on establishing the Commission on Truth, Reconciliation and Healing. Consultations were held in mid-2022 but excluded millions of refugees who had fled fearing for their lives, along with large portions of the country, including those areas under opposition control. 

Indeed, after four years, none of the three proposed transitional justice bodies have come into being – the Commission on Truth, Reconciliation and Healing, the Hybrid Court or the Compensation and Reparation Authority. 

“You cannot exclude large numbers of people who have suffered from having a say in the future justice system. Nor can you cherry-pick between the different transitional justice bodies – they all have to work together to bring closure to the people of South Sudan,” said Commissioner Barney Afako. “In the meantime, the Government must make available interim reparations to survivors whose lives are shattered,” he added.

While in New York, the Commissioners also spoke at a Global Survivors Forum hosted by Nobel Peace Prize winners, Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad, which examined best practice for reparations for sexual violence.  

“Survivors in South Sudan, particularly those of repeated incidents of sexual violence, tell us again and again that criminal accountability is the only way to guarantee their safety and peace for the country,” said Commissioner Andrew Clapham. “That’s why setting up the Hybrid Court is non-negotiable”.

Source: Radio Tamazuj