Report of the Secretary-General on South Sudan (covering the period from 16 December 2016 to 1 March 2017) (S/2017/224) [EN/AR]
- The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2327 (2016), by which the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) until 15 December 2017 and requested me to report on the implementation of the mandate every 90 days. It covers developments from 16 December 2016 to 1 March 2017 and contains recommendations on the steps to adapt UNMISS to the situation on the ground and to increase the efficiency of the implementation of its mandate.
II. Political and economic developments
Since the adoption on 16 December 2016 of resolution 2327 (2016), there has been minimal progress towards implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (the peace agreement). Gichira Kibara (Kenya), the new Chair of the National Constitutional Amendment Committee established under chapter I of the peace agreement, visited Juba in December. During his visit, he consulted with members of the Constitutional Amendment Committee and the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission on the Amendment Committee’s work and the need to develop an action plan for the implementation of the mandate of the Committee. On 15 December, the Ministry of Justice inaugurated the technical committee for the consultative process on the establishment of the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing, in accordance with chapter V of the peace agreement. The technical committee is chaired by the Ministry of Justice and includes representatives from the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare, the South Sudan Peace Commission, the South Sudan Human Rights Commission and faith-based and civil society organizations. Since its establishment, the technical committee has started mapping conflict patterns and hotspots to be considered for national consultations.
On 14 December, the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, announced the launch of a national dialogue initiative under his patronage. The President stated that the process would take a three-phased approach starting with grass-roots consultations, followed by regional peace conferences and culminating in a national conference in Juba. He further said that the Transitional Government of National Unity would work closely with regional and international partners to enhance the credibility and effectiveness of the process. On 16 December, the Transitional National Legislative Assembly endorsed the national dialogue proposal.
On 19 December, Mr. Kiir appointed four advisers as patrons of the process and a 26-member National Dialogue Steering Committee comprising parliamentarians, retired military commanders and religious leaders, with the mandate to develop an agenda and timetable for the national dialogue that would not contravene the terms of the peace agreement. The Steering Committee will be assisted by five advisers and a 15-member secretariat representing seven national institutions. In a letter dated 1 March 2017 addressed to Mr. Kiir, Paride Taban, Bishop Emeritus of the Catholic Diocese of Torit, asked to be excused from his role as Co-Chair of the Steering Committee, citing his advanced age and previous retirement from official functions.
On 21 February, speaking at the opening of the second session of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly, Mr. Kiir stressed that the national dialogue, as the chief priority of the Government for 2017, was designed with flexibility and transparency to unite the people of South Sudan and consolidate peace and security. According to the President, other priority tasks for 2017 include implementation of the peace agreement, economic recovery and improved relations with regional and international partners.
Mr. Kiir’s national dialogue initiative received mixed reactions. The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in Opposition, led by Riek Machar, welcomed a national dialogue process in principle but raised concerns regarding the political context and implementation modalities, in particular Mr. Kiir’s credibility to lead the process. They asserted that national dialogue must be anchored in accountability and justice through the Hybrid Court for South Sudan and be complementary to the peace agreement. The exiled leader of the National Democratic Movement, Lam Akol, argued that peace was a prerequisite for a meaningful bottom-up national dialogue and called for an inclusive national dialogue conference to be held outside the country and facilitated by a neutral entity. Other opposition leaders, including from the Democratic Change Party and the former political detainees, welcomed the initiative, but stressed the need for inclusivity. Civil society and faith-based organizations generally supported the concept of a grass-roots approach to a national dialogue, although some organizations, including the South Sudan Council of Churches, have expressed reservations over the current configuration of the Steering Committee. The voluntary civil society task force on the implementation of the peace agreement discussed the role of civil society organizations in the national dialogue initiative and agreed to consult the population and present their findings to the Steering Committee for consideration.
On 29 January, on the margins of the twenty-eighth African Union Summit, the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the United Nations held a consultative meeting and issued a joint statement expressing deep concern over the continuing spread of fighting, risk of mass atrocities and the dire humanitarian situation in South Sudan. The statement called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and an inclusive political process. The three organizations encouraged the African Union High Representative for South Sudan, Alpha Oumar Konaré, to undertake active shuttle diplomacy towards ensuring inclusivity in the national dialogue and implementation of the peace agreement, in close consultation with the Chair of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, Festus Mogae, as well as IGAD and the United Nations.