South Sudan has progressed, but setbacks remain, Ban says

10 Jul 2013

South Sudan has progressed, but setbacks remain, Ban says

20 June 2013 - South Sudan has progressed over the past few months, but several setbacks, including the deteriorating security situation in Jonglei State, could undermine steps forward, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in his latest report on the country.

Areas of progress mentioned in the report are relations with Sudan, internal dialogue with armed groups, the national reconciliation process, transforming the South Sudan National Police Service, and steps to end prolonged, arbitrary detentions.

Other setbacks fall in the areas of state authority and rule of law. "The reach of State authority in conflict-prone areas, such as Jonglei State, also remains constrained, and efforts to establish effective rule of law throughout the country have yielded limited results," the Secretary-General says.

The country also faces challenges in implementing political reforms and strengthening public institutions, according to the report. "Bodies crucial to successful transition, such as the National Constitutional Review Commission and the National Elections Commission, need adequate budgetary allocations from the Government to advance their work."

And although appointed in December 2012, members of the Political Parties Council, essential for registration of political parties prior to elections, have also yet to be sworn in, the report notes.

Mr. Ban also points to the lack of political space in the country. "I remain disturbed by the erosion of respect for the right to freedom of expression and the intimidation of the media and civil society in particular."

He expresses concern that national and state authorities are struggling to implement commitments by the top leadership to improve respect for human rights.

"Cases of arbitrary arrest, detention, torture and extrajudicial killings by security forces and agencies, as well as the inability of the authorities to hold those responsible to account, are particularly worrisome."

The Secretary-General says he is "deeply troubled" by escalating conflict in Jonglei and inter-communal violence in the tri-State area. "In Jonglei State, clashes between the David Yau Yau armed group and the Sudan People's Liberation Army have led to the loss of life and property and the displacement of the civilian population."

He expresses alarm at violence against UN personnel as well as aid workers and their assets in Jonglei. "The lack of verifiable information from either side about civilian casualties, as well as casualties within armed groups, is also disconcerting."

Given serious operational challenges as well as critical resource and capability gaps facing UNMISS, the UN Secretariat would work with the mission to identify other options like unarmed, unmanned aerial systems, helicopter gunships and supplementary heavy lift and riverine capabilities.

"The deployment of the unarmed, unmanned aerial systems will be considered only once the pilot project within the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been evaluated, and helicopter gunships will be considered as a shared asset within the framework of inter-mission cooperation,' the report states.

The Secretary-General recommends a one-year extension of UNMISS' mandate, noting that the end goal was for the government to develop its ability to prevent, mitigate and resolve conflicts through civilian administration. The Sudan People's Liberation Army should be gradually transformed and its activities restricted to national defense.