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The new South Sudan state must uphold human rights

“We do believe that human rights have to be there from the very beginning, and the full commitment of the authorities is very important. So we want to engage the authorities in a dialogue on human rights and also to meet with the South Sudan human rights commissioners,” Kang said in Juba, Southern Sudan.

A new beginning of South Sudan should embrace human rights © OHCHR Photo/Scott CampbellAddressing students at the University of Juba in South Sudan the Deputy High Commissioner said the new State will now have the opportunity to pursue simultaneous objectives of “justice, human rights, good governance, peace and prosperity.”

Noting the challenges ahead of the new Nation, she called on the international community to assist South Sudan to build its institutions and policy-making capacity to achieve human rights.

Southern Sudan held a referendum earlier this year leading to the birth of the world's newest country - South Sudan. The formal declaration of independence will be made on 9 July.

A peace agreement in 2005 between the north and south ended a 25-year civil war that left two million people dead. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement provides for an end to the conflict, wealth sharing, security arrangements and power sharing among other contentious issues.

Recent fighting in the disputed oil-rich border region of Abyei and elsewhere in south Kordofan has been seen as a threat to peace and the respect of human rights in the country.

Kang said the fresh conflict was a source of grave concern especially because of the misery and pain on the people who have suffered for too long.

“It would be an utter betrayal of the people of Sudan who had waited for so long for this historic opportunity, if these situations relapse into all-out conflict,” she said.

Kang said a new agreement signed by leaders from north and south Sudan to demilitarize the disputed central region of Abyei is a positive step, but expressed concern about continuing violence.

“South Sudan cannot be at peace when the Transitional Areas remain mired in conflict. All sides must be urged to take a step back and seek solutions through dialogue,” Kang said.

The agreement allows an Ethiopian peacekeeping force to move into the contested region.

She also met with high-ranking officials, including the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, as well as Commissioners of the Southern Sudan Human Rights Commission and discussed how to integrate human rights into the state building efforts from the very beginning.


The Deputy High Commissioner pointed out that, given the level of poverty in Southern Sudan, economic and social rights should be prioritized.

She stressed that “education is not only a right in itself, but it is also an enabler of other rights.” Two million children of school going age remain outside of school in Sudan.

She added that the rights of women and girls including access to education are key issues for the new State. Kang said the level of education for women and girls is “unacceptable."

“I am told that a 15- year-old girl in South Sudan has a higher chance of dying during childbirth rather than graduating from secondary school.”

Her first visit to Sudan is aimed at raising the visibility of human rights in the country and to support the work of the human rights components of the UN Mission in Sudan and the UN-African Union joint mission in Darfur, as well as that of other human rights partners.

Meanwhile, the Deputy High Commissioner is scheduled to meet with senior government officials in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, and members of civil society throughout the country.

Kang also met with people who have fled the conflict in the troubled oil-rich region of Abyei.

During her mission from the 21- 27 June, she will also visit other regions in Sudan, including Darfur in the west, where she will meet with internally displaced people. In Darfur, the protracted crisis has frustrated attempts to find a comprehensive solution, leaving nearly 2 million people internally displaced in camps across the region.

24 June 2011