June 23, 2021 — Many thanks indeed, Mr President, and can I begin by joining others in thanking SRSG Fink Haysom for his briefing. Thank you for the honest analysis and reflections and also for setting out the very action-oriented plan for the mission going forward. It’s clear from what you said that there are some encouraging signs on the political level, but still really significant challenges at the security, governance and development and humanitarian level.
And also our thanks also to Mr Rajab Mohandis for his briefing. As he was speaking, it seemed to me that the solution to many of the challenges in South Sudan lie in the title of his organisation, the Organisation for Responsive Governance.
And finally, also very good to see you, Ambassador Malwal here today. I hope you can carry the messages you hear back to Juba.
As many have observed, it’s almost ten years since the world’s newest nation was born and it’s good that we join as a Council to mark this important milestone.
The Peace Agreement that we’ve discussed again today ended five years of subsequent war, and we commend the compromises shown in agreeing the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan. It’s an important peace agreement and it’s good to hear of some of the steps being taken on its implementation.
But it’s also very clear to all of us, reading the report and hearing today, that so much remains to be done. Because the stark reality is that South Sudan remains one of the world’s least developed countries, with its short history dominated by violence, by corruption and subsequent suffering. Progress implementing the peace process has been too slow and too limited. And there are many reasons for this, but it’s clear, as we listened again today, that one of the reasons is an absence of political will, and the political will necessary to deliver.
Because we know that there are billions of dollars in oil revenues, but despite this, the economy over the period has contracted significantly. We also know that natural resources, those very oil dollars, are being exploited and public funds diverted. And this is leaving next to no money available to invest in public infrastructure or services, as Mr Mohandis set out so clearly in his statement.
Mr President, we should also acknowledge that there is a significant humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, and many more people are in need of humanitarian assistance than at any time since South Sudan’s independence. The great tragedy of this is of course that it is largely man-made and largely preventable.
We call on the Government of South Sudan today to take responsibility and act in genuine partnership with the donor community to address this crisis because development assistance is only part of the solution. The government must themselves tackle corruption, drive economic reform and respect the Status of Forces Agreement.
With sixty per cent of the population facing acute food insecurity, obstructions against aid workers are unacceptable, as is the killing of humanitarian workers.
We urge the South Sudanese authorities to take action to guarantee the safety of those delivering life-saving assistance and to hold perpetrators to account. And if they fail to do so, we need to consider new sanctions listings.
We welcome that this Council recently renewed the arms embargo, sanctions regime and the Panel of Experts’ mandate. We encourage the Government to take forward tasks on the arms embargo benchmarks, including the establishment of the Necessary Unified Force with a genuinely unified command.
In closing, Mr President, let me reiterate the call for South Sudan’s leaders to use this milestone, this decade anniversary, to reflect on the future they want for their country, and build on their commitment to working together for the benefit of all, for the benefit of the people, that they’re of course there to serve. Because we know what needs to happen – that all of it requires the Government of South Sudan to take ownership. And I have to say that I won’t go through a list because my Kenyan colleague set out much better than me on behalf of the A3+1, the actions that we need to see. So I won’t reiterate them, but I will say that what we need is a renewed effort from the Government of South Sudan, with support from the international community, and that this can change South Sudan’s course. We can ensure the next decade delivers the stability and prosperous nation its people deserve. Let’s seize this opportunity.