STATEMENT AT THE 21ST RJMEC PLENARY MEETING BY MR. GUANG CONG, DEPUTY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

STATEMENT AT THE 21ST RJMEC PLENARY MEETING BY MR. GUANG CONG, DEPUTY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

Chair, Honorable Ministers,

Excellencies, Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

On behalf of Mr. Nicholas Haysom, the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General, it is my pleasure to brief the first R-JMEC plenary of 2022. I bring you his and UNMISS’ best wishes for the new year.

Allow me to start by acknowledging the two-year anniversary of the formation of the revitalized government this month. National and State executive and legislative bodies are now largely in place. I commend the parties for agreeing and establishing these essential structures of governance. In many ways, assessed against February 2020, important progress has been made.

While we take stock and evaluate the gains thus far, we also need to assess what has not been achieved and critical gaps that require attention. These gaps and recommendations on way forward have been captured in the latest RJMEC report and I encourage us to deliberate on them.

I welcome the recent efforts to jumpstart the transitional security arrangements. After receiving funds from the National Transitional Committee (NTC), the Joint Defence Board (JDB) commenced its screening of the Necessary Unified Forces (NUF) in December. However, this process needs to progress urgently. What is needed is a clear plan and timelines for the graduation and deployment of forces, and an agreement on command structures.

Against this backdrop, intercommunal conflict continues in South Sudan, perpetuating cycles of trauma and revenge that undermine the prospects for longer-term reconciliation and healing.  The recent escalation of conflict in greater Jonglei remains a concern. I therefore call on the Government to de-escalate the situation, protect its citizens and end impunity for cycles of violence. UNMISS will continue to work closely with state and national authorities, grassroot communities, and stakeholders of the local peace processes to promote peace through dialogue and reconciliation.

Flooding, insecurity, and the Covid-19 pandemic continue to exacerbate the fragile humanitarian situation in South Sudan. Since May 2021, an estimated 835,000 people have been affected by unprecedented levels of flooding—this demonstrates South Sudan’s increasing vulnerability to climate change.

In Bentiu and Rukbona, flood waters from the last rainy season have not yet receded. With the rainy season soon approaching, additional flooding would be catastrophic. The United Nations continues to build dykes and undertake efforts to mitigate the situation, but what is most needed now is urgent intervention through collaboration between the Government, the United Nations and the international community. This could yield the necessary and expedient coordinated actions to save lives.

Early analysis for 2022 indicates that the overall humanitarian needs will continue to grow. Humanitarian assistance will remain a priority.

UNMISS is doing all that it can, within our capabilities, to support the government in its primary responsibility to protect civilians. Our intention is to build more durable solutions to conflict. We are adapting our strategy to prevent and respond to hotspots in an integrated manner, including through the flexible deployment of Temporary Operating Bases.  The Mission also continues its support to strengthening the justice chain, including through the deployment of mobile courts. The aim of which is to promote accountability and end impunity. Unfortunately, civilians overwhelmingly bear the brunt of conflict and the desperate humanitarian conditions in South Sudan.

The prospects for alleviating the humanitarian and security challenges in South Sudan rest on the expedient implementation of the revitalized peace agreement.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In our December meeting, I made the two priority recommendations, which I reiterate today:

  1. First, progress is needed regarding the Transitional Security Arrangements. This entails finalizing the command and control structure and graduation and deployment the Necessary Unified Forces.
  2. Second, it is encouraging that the formation of most of the RTNLA specialized committees has taken place. In this regard, UNMISS, the UN Country Team and its partners have already intensified support for legislative and constitution-making process. This includes capacity-building support for women parliamentarians and the National Constitutional Amendment Committee.

Importantly, I call upon law makers and the political parties to address the pending critical bills, including those required to facilitate electoral preparations. The constitutional-making process must also be prioritized and finalized through public consultations and civic dialogue. A permanent constitution will serve as the bedrock to move forward the aspirations of the South Sudanese in building a prosperous and peaceful future.

To this end, I am encouraged by and support the recent Communiqué of the African Union Peace and Security Council. It requests for an IGAD, AU, UN trilateral evaluation of the electoral and constitution-making needs of South Sudan. This renews the commitment of the international community to support South Sudan to reach its objectives. I therefore urge the revitalized unity government and parties to embrace this endeavor.

In his New Year’s message, President Salva Kiir reiterated the need to create permanent stability in South Sudan through full implementation of the Revitalised Peace Agreement. Let this be our collective call to action.

Rest assured that you have the full support of UNMISS and the United Nations family to build durable and lasting peace in South Sudan.

Thank you very much.