Organized forces in Western Equatoria pledge to promote human rights while serving local communities

UNMISS protection of civilians uniformed personnel peacekeepers South Sudan peacekeeping human rights western equatoria

At a recent workshop organized by UNMISS in Western Equatoria, members of local organized forces, police and civil society came together to discuss an important human rights principle - eliminating sexual violence in conflict. Photo by Martin Siba/UNMISS.

26 Jul 2021

Organized forces in Western Equatoria pledge to promote human rights while serving local communities

Martin Siba

Members of the organized forces in Yambio, Western Equatoria, have made a commitment to promote human rights as they work to protect and serve local communities.

The renewed vow was made during a day-long workshop organized by the Human Rights Division of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) which focused on conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV).

The workshop brought together 45participants from the organized forces--police, military and human rights focal points--to deliberate on the Action Plan that was signed by South Sudan Peoples Defence Force on sexual violence.

“With the signing of the peace process, it is very important to ensure that everybody within the organized forces should have a clear comprehension of human rights issues and adhere to internationally accepted human rights standards during all interactions with civilian communities, said Colonel Anyar Madut, a military officer from the  6th Division of the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces.  

Additionally, Colonel Madut emphasized the cogent need to incorporate the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights into South Sudan’s security organs in order to build trust and confidence among the local population.

“We, as uniformed personnel, are responsible for incorporating Human Rights principles in everything we do, especially when it comes to violence against women and young girls. We all have to demonstrate our commitment to ending this scourge,” he added.

An important element of implementing these principles, according to Angelina Justo, a police  officer  from Yambio Police Headquarters, is for uniformed personnel to trickle down human rights awareness to their colleagues.

 “I will share everything I have learned here today with all members of my unit because it is incumbent upon us to make sure our colleagues are aware of internationally accepted human rights standards and humanitarian law,” she stated.

Ms. Justo stressed upon the critical need for organized forces to enhance rule of law in their respective areas to foster positive relationships with civilian communities and that it is equally important for members of the communities to report any issues they face to authorities.

For her part, UNMISS Human Rights Officer Okwa Morphy explained that this workshop was significant, as all organized forces came together on a single platform to discuss the vital roles they play in protecting the people of South Sudan and building a durable peace.

 “The workshop brought together the SSPDF, police and civil society organizations in Yambio to learn about a very important human rights principle—eliminating conflict related sexual violence. It was heartening to see all different stakeholders agree that this is a defining aspect of their work as uniformed personnel,” said Ms. Morphy.