Civil society organizations are being urged to play an active and positive role in promoting human rights in South Sudan as part of their response to an international periodic review of the country’s human rights record.
Approximately 30 representatives from civil society groups took part in a two-day training session in Bentiu, facilitated by human rights officers serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan. It was designed to inform the groups about the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the country’s human rights situation, which was carried out last year by the Human Rights Council, mandated by the United Nations Security Council.
The UPR involves assessing the human rights records of all 193 UN member states and addressing violations wherever they occur. The UPR also aims to provide technical assistance to states and enhance their capacity to deal effectively with human rights challenges.
The review found there were enormous challenges facing South Sudan in the field of promotion and protection of human rights, including insecurity, poverty and lack of financial resources to create strong institutions and to support the available human rights institutions in the country.
Recommendations from the review were discussed at the training session as well as how civil society groups can follow up and be empowered to provide awareness to others about the review and human rights more generally.
“The goal was to enhance the capacity of civil society, strengthen them and give them the skills and knowledge they need so that they can carry out the monitoring and implementation process of the universal periodic review,” said UNMISS Human Rights Officer in Bentiu, Kong Dabuol.
“The UPR is a joint process - not only for the government but for everybody - for civil society and citizens so that we can have a strong country.”
Civil society organization’s representative, Samuel Luny Kuol, appealed to the government to enact strong laws to protect the rights of all South Sudanese.
“My advice to the government is to strengthen the normal structure of the government so that they take accurate steps and also address the root causes of the problem so that people cannot continue to carry out the violations anymore,” he said.