Swedish statement at the UN Security Council Briefing on South Sudan
National statement delivered by Ambassador Carl Skau on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on South Sudan, 18 December 2018, New York.
Thank you, Mr. President,
And I thank Under-Secretary-General Lacroix and Special Representative Patten for their briefings to the Council this afternoon. I would also like to thank Ambassador Wronecka for her briefing and for her professional leadership of the Sanctions Committee.
Three months have passed since the signing of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict, which constituted a watershed moment in returning South Sudan to the path towards peace and stability. We again commend IGAD and the facilitators for this achievement. We are now seeing promising steps of implementation, albeit behind schedule, and that work is being taken forward in the various pre-transitional institutions and mechanisms.
We are also encouraged by the signs that the ceasefire has been upheld in most parts of South Sudan and I note in the assessment by the UN that the security situation has significantly improved. Efforts made by the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces and the SPLA in Opposition to open direct communications lines has contributed towards confidence-building measures.
What is needed now is sustained political will of the parties to implement what has been agreed upon, including to make progress on a comprehensive agreement on security arrangements and to engage in genuine peacebuilding and reconciliation. We agree with what was pointed out by Ethiopia earlier, that it is now important that the Council remains actively engaged in support of the region, acting firmly on shortcomings, but also and importantly recognize and acknowledge progress when it is made. This Council can do better in recognizing progress as a means to contribute to further progress.
The peace process remains fragile, however, and fighting has continued in parts of the country with unacceptable consequences to civilians. A complete cessation of hostilities by all parties, the Government and armed groups alike, must be unconditional to allow for a meaningful political process as we move forward. There must be consequences for violations of the Agreement.
We welcome the region’s continued engagement in monitoring the implementation of the agreement and hope that a new chairman of JMEC will soon be appointed. Holding the parties to account will be vital, and the UN and the African Union must continue to support and engage in the regional effort.
Moving forward with the political process it will be essential to include all stakeholders, including the effective participation of women, youth, and civil society. Gender issues are central to peace and security and we call on the parties to ensure that the 35 percent quota for women, as set out in the peace agreement, is met not only for the national and state level, but for all pre-transitional and transitional structures.
We welcome SRSG Patten’s engagement for South Sudan and thank her for the efforts towards breaking the cycle of impunity for sexual and gender-based violence. I almost could not breathe when listening to her moving accounts on the heinous attacks of sexual and gender-based violence against women near Bentiu in recent weeks. These attacks must be condemned in the strongest terms and we very much welcome the swift and clear statement by this Council on these incidents. The incidents further underline the critical importance of taking form action to advance accountability and bringing those responsible to justice, also as a way to prevent further such attacks. The transitional justice mechanisms of the Peace Agreement, including establishing the Hybrid Court, are important in this regard and access for the Mission to investigate alleged human rights violations and abuses must be granted.
In the face of such horrific acts of sexual violence against women and girls as reported from Bentiu, the Council must also act and consider targeted measures against those responsible, in line with the stand-alone criteria on SGBV. We fully agree with SRSG Patten that we must raise the costs and consequences for committing, commanding and condoning these crimes, ending the prevailing impunity - today a driver of sexual violence,
We remain strongly concerned about the grave humanitarian situation, impacted directly and indirectly by the conflict. We call on the parties, in particular the Transitional Government, to address the dangerous conditions facing humanitarian workers. All impediments against the rapid, safe, and unhindered delivery of relief across South Sudan must be removed. We commend efforts by UNMISS, WHO and other humanitarian partners for the Ebola preparedness contingency planning in response to the outbreak in DRC.
Attacks on health care continue to be reported from South Sudan. We need to redouble our efforts to implement UNMISS mandate and resolution 2286. The Arria formula meeting on Friday will be an opportunity to further discuss this matter with representatives from South Sudan and other affected countries.
We fully share the assessment made by ambassador Wronecka from her visit earlier this year. It concurs very well with the conclusions of Ambassador Skoog’s visit last month as chair of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. We also very much appreciate her efforts towards assuring the immediate release of all child soldiers, as the conflict in South Sudan has had a devastating effect on the children in the country. The unacceptable recruitment and use of children by armed groups or forces must come to an end. We just today adopted CAAC Conclusions on South Sudan, in which we welcome the Peace Agreement as an opportunity to turn a corner and make the protection of children a priority as the country moves forward.
In conclusion, Mr. President, as the implementation of the Peace Agreement is now seeing steps in the right direction, upholding this momentum will be crucial. All parties must sustain the political will and make every effort to translate commitments into reality. This holds true also for the Security Council, which must remain closely and constructively engaged and continue to offer its united, unified and active support to regional efforts.
I thank you.