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South Sudan

Violations put peace agreement transition in jeopardy

26 April 2023

People who fled fighting in South Sudan are seen walking at sunset on arrival at a refugee camp.© REUTERS/James Akena

South Sudan is on the cusp of ending a transitional period – a grace period spelled out in the roadmap of country’s Revitalized Peace Agreement that includes the need for the nation to set up institutions and mechanisms necessary to hold elections in December 2024.

Yet, UN Human Rights experts call for crucial support for the country to expedite the processes to meet the deadline – which has also been hampered by continued human rights violations and lack of greater political will.

“From a human rights perspective we continue to document serious human rights violations and abuses. We continue to document killings of civilians as a result of the clashes – that are still ongoing. We continue to document a lot of injuries, abductions, displacement of civilians, cases of conflict related sexual violence, also arbitrary arrests and detention,” said Musa Gassama, who heads/represents UN Human Rights in South Sudan.

The transitional Government is expected to have the appropriate architecture and environment for elections in place before the country can hold its first general elections in December 2024. The world’s youngest nation obtained independence from Sudan in 2011 but has been plagued by violence and instability since 2013. A series of peace agreements have been signed. One of them, unifying the various political factions, provided for this transitional period which has been extended twice, and ends in February 2025. Despite the political factions recommitting to the 2018 Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict, human rights violations still continue. According to monitoring work completed by UN Human Rights and the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), in 2022, more than 3,400 civilians were affected by violence.

Gassama, who is also the director of human rights in the UNMISS, said the Office is supporting the government through the Ministry of Justice to address transitional justice processes.

The human rights team’s investigations have led to identification of individuals responsible for some of the most serious human rights violations and abuses.

“Our public reports call for accountability, so they are advocacy tools. I think for us, our advocacy is driven by our data,” Gassama said.

The young nation has taken steps towards putting in place requirements of the agreement, the Office continues to call for consistent and continued progress towards meeting the timelines set in the peace agreement’s roadmap, Gassama said. So far, the peace deal’s implementation is behind schedule with key tasks including the transitional justice process and security reforms, he added.

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