Statement by Nicholas Haysom, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, at the 35th RJMEC Plenary

unmiss rjmec south sudan nicholas haysom
23 May 2024

Statement by Nicholas Haysom, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, at the 35th RJMEC Plenary

Near Verbatim

I thank the RJMEC for the opportunity to brief you today.

Since we last met, I have briefed the UN Security Council on 9 April as they reflected on the letter from the Secretary-General that assessed the level of preparedness towards peaceful and credible elections in South Sudan in December. The assessment considered whether the minimum political and technical preconditions for a peaceful electoral process deemed credible by the people of South Sudan, was in place and, if not, what political decisions and resources are required to complete the transitional period.

While recognizing the sovereign prerogative of South Sudan to make decisions about its elections, the Secretary-General’s letter, in line with the observations of IGAD, AU and RJMEC, concluded that the necessary conditions as agreed upon by the parties themselves in the R-ARCSS had not been achieved on several fronts. It further encouraged the parties to commit to take urgent steps to collectively agree a “critical mass” of implementation requirements necessary for a peaceful, free, fair, and credible elections.

While I take note of the finalization of the Strategic Defense and Security Review Board’s report, the partial financing of the technical electoral bodies, and the steps taken on the Transitional Security Arrangements, the fact is over the last few months marginal progress has been recorded.

The inter-party dialogue process which commenced last month with the objective of finding consensus on how to approach the end of the transitional period appears to have stalled and given way to the ongoing Tumaini Initiative in Nairobi. While I am encouraged that the Tumaini Initiative has brought into being the Declaration of Commitment signed on 16 May, with seven months remaining before elections, it is critical that the parties find a working formular that gives required attention and impetus to both processes.

I remain concerned about the prevailing dire humanitarian and economic conditions in the country. An estimated 7.1 million people are experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity mostly in locations affected by climate related shocks, economic crisis, and conflict, according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC). Meanwhile, only 13.5 per cent of the US$1.8 billion required for the Humanitarian Needs Response has been received as of 20 May.

The humanitarian situation was unnecessarily compounded by the imposition of taxes on trucks carrying fuel and other supplies to UN humanitarian, development, and peacekeeping operations. This affected the capacity of UNMISS to implement its mandate and humanitarian airdrops have been suspended, affecting 60,000 people in need. We thank the Minister of Finance and other government authorities for their cooperation in resolving the problem, but as matters stand challenges persist in implementing the Ministerial Order exempting the UN from taxation. I call on all government authorities to allow the imports of UN and humanitarian goods and services without taxes Indeed, on our part we continue to give assurances of implementing rules which will ensure the probity of these transactions.

We are further concerned by reports of anticipated floods given the rise in the Nile waters. This has implications for accessibility to communities as the country prepares for elections, and the overall security situation because of its impact on grazing and agriculture resources. I encourage the Transitional Government to the reinforce its disaster preparedness plans and allocate sufficient resources to mitigate the impact on its citizens. I also call on the international community to support efforts towards saving innocent lives. 

The Sudan conflict continues to negatively affect the humanitarian situation in South Sudan and creating new economic and security risks. As of 15 May, over 674,000 people, had crossed into South Sudan. With no end to the conflict in sight, the numbers are increasing with daily arrivals adding to pressures on limited services at border points and host communities. Challenges with the oil pipeline also mean that the full economic consequences as a result of disruption of oil flow is yet to manifest but the picture does not look promising.

The persistent subnational violence is also negatively affecting civilians and undermining the government’s ability to give due attention to nation building efforts. I take note of the various high-level government and security delegations which have been dispatched to Warrap and Western Equatoria states to ease tensions between communities and the establishment of a Peace and Reconciliation Committee for Greater Bahr el Gazal region. 

On our part, the United Nations will continue to support local peace initiatives. We continue to monitor the situation in Tambura and Kapoeta and in this connection, we have already reinforced our operating bases to protect civilians following the outbreak of violence. I also acknowledge the efforts exerted by government towards restoring calm the restive town of Tambura and its environ.


I want to emphasize the urgency needed to implement the provisions of the Revitalized Peace agreement in view of the brewing perfect storm (economic, humanitarian and climate change factors). Further delays could undermine the progress that has been achieved thus far.

I wish to underscore that as matters stand, the Revitalized Peace Agreement remains the only route towards enduring peace in South Sudan. The United Nations, with its Trilateral partners (IGAD and AU) in concert with RJMEC, is committed to supporting and working with the South Sudanese parties to build the foundations of democracy, good governance, peace, and stability.

I thank you.