Briefing on the Situation in Abyei

South Sudan

Date | 24 November, 2020

Tomorrow (24 November), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to hold a virtual meeting to receive a briefing on the situation in Abyei.

The Chairperson of the AU High Level Implementation (AUHIP) Panel Thabo Mbeki is expected to brief the Council. United Nations Interim Security Forces for Abyei (UNISFA) Force Commander may also provide a briefing. The representative of Sudan also as the Chair of Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and representative of South Sudan are scheduled to present. The UN Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa may also deliver a statement.

The meeting is taking place after the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) renewed the mandate of UNISFA for another six months. It would have been useful if the PSC meeting had taken place ahead of the mission’s mandate renewal. This would have given the African members of the Security Council a clear guidance to reflect Africa’s views and perspectives in the negotiation process.

Be that as it may, in light of the resolution adopted by the Security Council, the meeting of the AUPSC will be critical to pronounce itself on some of the salient issues. There is pressure particularly from the penholder underscoring the need for an exit strategy for UNISFA. Over the last couple of years, the US has been calling for a significant reduction of the UN peacekeeping budget and, hence, pushing for exit of some of the UN missions. What made the situation further complicated as far as UNISFA is concerned relates to the fact that the parties have not been able to make much of a progress in terms of the political track. Although there have lately been positive developments in the bilateral relations between Sudan and South Sudan, this has not yet been translated into concrete action, particularly in terms of resolving the outstanding issues, including the final status of Abyei. Therefore, by insisting on the exit strategy, the Council and particularly the penholder, is trying to exert pressure on the parties to make progress.

There has indeed been increasing frustration that the parties have not made progress in establishing joint institutions as per their 2011 agreement. There is also disappointment over the delay in the deployment of UN police and denial of visas, the impasse in the appointment of a civilian Deputy Head of Mission. These issues need to be resolved to assist the mission in effectively carrying out its mandates. Every possible effort must also be made to capitalize on the positive momentum generated by the warm bilateral relations between Sudan and South Sudan.

No doubt, the mission cannot stay there indefinitely but it should also be understood that it is premature for the mission to withdraw at this stage. Since UNISFA has been deployed nine years ago, it has certainly contributed in stabilizing the Abyei Area. The mission, which is composed solely of Ethiopian peacekeepers has been recognized for effectively discharging its mandate, including the facilitation of peaceful migration, conflict prevention, mediation, and deterrence. A premature withdrawal without the resolution of the outstanding issues will have the risk of undermining the stability of the Abyei area and jeopardize the fragile transition processes in both Sudan and South Sudan. But then the issue is the parties will have to make tangible progress. The African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) working together the UN Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa is expected to intensify mediation efforts to encourage both Sudan and South Sudan to establish temporary administrative and security arrangements for Abyei and to achieve a political solution for the status of Abyei. Some important work is expected to be done over the coming six months.

The UN Secretary-General is requested by the Security Council to hold a joint consultation with the governments of Sudan, South Sudan, and Ethiopia to discuss the exit strategy for UNISFA and develop options. He is also expected to report on engagement by the African Union and AUHIP on political mediation of the Abyei dispute and Sudan and South Sudan border issues, and recommendations on the most appropriate framework, structure or organizational mandate for the region to provide support to the parties that will enable further progress in these areas. Furthermore, the Security Council has expressed its intention to request an independent review of UNISFA in the context of recent political developments between and within Sudan and South Sudan and based on the outcomes of the above-mentioned joint consultation.

The exepected outcome is a communiqué. The PSC may welcome the recent mandate renewal of UNISFA for the next six month. The PSC may deliberate on the exit strategy of the mission and chart out the way forward. It may call on the AU Commisison for enhanced and continued support for the mediation efforts between Sudan and South Sudan.


VTC Briefing on the situation in South Sudan

South Sudan

Date | 15 September, 2020

Tomorrow (15 September 2020) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will hold a briefing session on the situation in South Sudan. This 944th session of the PSC is expected to consider the report of the Chairperson of the Commission on the latest situation in the country. The Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission for South Sudan, Joram Biswaro, is expected to introduce the report. It is also envisaged that the PSC receives update from the Office of the Legal Counsel regarding the request of the 917th session of the PSC for progress report on the process for the operationalization of the Hybrid Court.

The PSC will also receive the statements of the representative of South Sudan, the Interim Chairperson of the Revitalized-Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, Sudan, as the Chair of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the representative of the UN.

The last time that PSC was briefed on South Sudan was in April 2020. The meeting is scheduled to take place via VTC.

It is exactly two years since the signing of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS). Therefore, this meeting will provide an opportunity to take stock of the progress made in the implementation of the peace agreement and the challenges that still persist since the last meeting of the PSC.

As noted during the last session, the agreement reached by the parties to form an inclusive transitional government has certainly rescued the country back from the brink. The announcement of the formation of the R-TGoNU with an inclusive new cabinet was very welcomed. This is essentially what has been considered as a progress. However, over the last couple of months since the formation of the R-TGoNU, the delays in fully operationalizing the governance structures and implementing the national security arrangements has been a source of major concern.

It has been noted that despite the formation of the R-TGoNU, the parties to the R-ARCSS were unable to agree on the distribution of responsibilities at the state and local government levels. As reported by R-JMEC, the resultant delay in the formation of state governments.

The Chairperson’s report is expected to highlight developments since the last session. In June, bilateral discussions between President Salva Kiir Mayardit and the First Vice President Dr Riek Machar resulted in some progress with the two sides agreeing for ITGoNU headed by the president to nominate governors to the states of Unity, Eastern Equatoria, Warrap, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Central Equatoria and Lakes; The SPLM/A-IO for the states of Upper Nile, Western Bahr el Ghazal, and Western Equatoria; and SSOA for Jonglei state. Despite the issuance by President Kiir of Republican Decrees No. 51/2020 and 53/2020 naming eight of the ten governors and three Chief Administrators of the Administrative Areas respectively, four of the six parties comprising the Other Political Parties (OPP) continue to object to this agreement as being contrary to the terms of the R-ARCSS.

This delay in the formation of the state and local government leadership has impacted negatively on the formation of the Transitional National Legislature (TNL), comprising both the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) and the Council of States (CoS). Thus, this key component of the transitional institutions has as yet to be established. The delay also contributed to a security vacuum in several states; evidenced by escalating inter-communal violence in the states of Warrap, Lakes, Unity and Jonglei. Countless numbers of individuals have been killed and others wounded in ongoing cattle rustling episodes and revenge attacks.

Another area of concern relates to the inadequate pace of progress in the implementation of the transitional security arrangements. Despite the PSC urging the parties to facilitate the ‘unification, training and integration of the various armed groups to enable deployment of the Unified Forces’, registration and screening, and detailed unification training have been suspended, and plans to complete graduation at all training centres within 30 days from 28 May 2020, followed by immediate redeployment of the NUF have not materialized. According to R-JMEC, high levels of the forces abandoning the cantonment sites and training centres due to severe food shortages, lack of medicines, and care facilities for the female personnel. The other area of immediate concern is the escalation of fighting, allegedly between the SSPDF/SPLA-IO and NAS with adverse effect on the protection of civilians.

The increase inter-communal violence coupled with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the flood disaster has also been exacerbating the humanitarian situation in the country affecting the wellbeing of many South Sudanese people. There have been continued sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) incidents, including rape and gang rape in some areas of the country. There has also been increasing reports of attacks against humanitarian workers, and a near-complete halt to the voluntary return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), and refugees. Furthermore, the socio-economic situation has been extremely dire. It is in the face of all these challenges that the second anniversary of the peace agreement is being marked this month.
Two years after the signing of the peace agreement, the South Sudanese people are not yet experiencing the dividends of peace. Lack of political will and trust among the parties is a major obstacle for making any meaningful progress. It is absolutely imperative that they set aside their difference and work together in a spirit of collegiality for the sake of the South Sudanese people who have endured so much for far too long. It is in this spirit that they can accelerate the implementation of the peace agreement and resolve the remaining outstanding issues. It is also vital that the financial constraints impeding progress are addressed as highlighted in the communique of the 917th PSC session. But it is only if there is meaningful commitment and action on the part of the South Sudanese stakeholders that the international community will be able to provide the necessary support. The Troika in a statement issued on 12 September 2020 observed “South Sudan’s leaders have a real opportunity to deliver the foundation of a stable and prosperous nation for all, and to demonstrate their commitment to peace. We urge them to demonstrate this as a matter of urgency and will work with South Sudan to support progress”.

The briefing from the Legal Counsel is expected to provide update on the status of operationalization of the Hybrid Court. While the legal instruments necessary for the formation of the Hybrid Court including the MoU between the AU and South Sudan have been drafted, these have as yet to be finalized with the signing of the MoU. The delay in the establishment of the TLA also means that the legislation envisaged in the R-ARSSC has as yet to be initiated.

It would be of interest to members of the PSC to know whether the legal instruments prepared through the Legal Counsel have reflected the useful guidance from the AU Transitional Justice Policy adopted by the AU Assembly in February 2019. Additionally, it would also be of interest where the process stands with respect to the other components of the transitional justice Chapter of the R-ARCSS. As the June 2020 R-JMEC report to IGAD noted, ‘Consistent with Articles 5.1.4 and 5.1.5 of the R-ARCSS, the RTGoNU is expected to receive support from the UN, AU and the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACPHR) in furtherance of the implementation of Chapter V of the R-ARCSS.’ It is worth noting that the ACHPR is undertaking work to deliver on this expectation pursuant to its Resolution 428 on the human rights situation in the Republic of South Sudan (ACHPR/Res.428(LXV)2019) which tasked the Country Rapporteur for South Sudan to engage with the AU Commission and the Government of South Sudan with proposals on the operationalization of Chapter V of the R-ARCSS.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s meeting is a communique. The AUPSC may wish to welcome the progress made in the formation of the various components of the R-TGoNU including in resolving the issues surrounding the allocation and appointment of the leadership of state governments. The Council may express concern over the slow pace of progress in the implementation of the transitional security arrangements and the challenges observed since its last session including suspension of activities for unification, training and integration of various armed forces and incidents of fighting. The PSC may also reiterate its call for the parties to implement the establishment and operationalization of the expanded Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA). The PSC may wish to call on the parties to demonstrate high levels of responsibility and urgency working together in a spirit of consensus and compromise to resolve all outstanding issues to complete the formation of the R-TGoNU in line with the peace agreement. With respect to the transitional justice chapter of the R-ARCSS, the PSC may welcome the engagement of the AU Commission to support the work towards the operationalization of the Hybrid Court and call on South Sudan to fully collaborate with the AU to address all challenges in the delivery of Chapter V of the peace agreement including with the contribution of the ACHPR and having regard to the useful guidance in the AU Transitional Justice Policy for finalizing the legal instruments and the MoU on the Hybrid Court.


Briefing of the AU Ad hoc committee (C5) on South Sudan

South Sudan

Date | 25 January, 2019

Tomorrow (25 January) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is scheduled to hold a briefing session. The briefing focuses on the AU High-Level Ad Hoc Committee of five countries from the five regions of the AU (C5) on South Sudan. It is anticipated that the chairperson of the C5, South Africa, will deliver the briefing report to the PSC.

The session is expected to enable the PSC to be updated on the activities of the C5. It is also expected to serve as an opportunity to clarify the terms of reference of the C5 and how its role can best be leveraged for supporting IGAD in the South Sudan peace process. It was during its 474th session that the PSC called for the establishment of an AU High-Level Ad-hoc Committee of Heads of State and Government, comprising one representative from each of the five regions of the Continent (C5). Initiated to enhance and scale up AU’s support to IGAD and its mediation efforts in South Sudan, the role expected of the C5, according to the terms of the communiqué of the 474th session of the PSC, is to ‘strengthen Africa’s support to (Inter-Governmental Authority on Development) IGAD and assist the South Sudanese parties and stakeholders to achieve
durable peace in their country’.

Following consultations with the IGAD and the five regions, the AU Commission designated Algeria, Chad, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Africa as members of the High-Level Ad Hoc Committee. Welcoming the constitution of the C5, the summit level 484th session of the PSC held on 29 January
2015 encouraged the ‘committee to take all the necessary steps to enhance the IGAD-led mediation’. At its 494th session held on 30 March 2015, the PSC urged the C5 ‘to meet as early as possible to elaborate its terms of reference and determine its work plan in support of IGAD.’ It was only during the AU summit held in Johannesburg, South Africa in June 2015 that the C5 was officially launched.

Since that time, the C5 has for quite sometime had only a passive and episodic engagement in the South Sudan peace process. During the course of 2018, the C5 has come to assume an active and substantive engagement. In the briefing to the PSC, South Africa’s Ambassador Ndumiso Ntshinga is expected
to provide updates on the activities that the C5 has undertaken in pursing its role.
On 30 June 2018, the C5 held a summit level meeting on the margins of the AU summit held in Nouakchott, Mauritania. The meeting that South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa chaired discussed the peace process in South Sudan and the issue of how to leverage and reinforce the role of the Committee vis-à-vis the work of IGAD.

In the communiqué that it adopted following the meeting, the ‘Ad-hoc Committee emphasized the added value of the Ad hoc Committee to the IGAD-led peace process and underscored the need for Africa to fully assume its responsibilities and create all requisite conditions for definitively ending the war in South Sudan’. Importantly, the communiqué called for ‘the elaboration of a roadmap to guide actions, including imposition of punitive measures against those who violate the ceasefire and obstruct the peace efforts.’ Following the signing of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (RACRSS) in September 2018, Ambassadors of members of the C5 held a meeting on 13 November 2018 with the Chairperson of the AU Commission to discuss on the role of the C5 in the implementation process of the R-ARCSS. Elevating the active role of the C5 further, the meeting underscored the importance of a filed visit by the C5 to South Sudan. A meeting that the C5 held with the Special Envoy of IGAD Ismail Wais on 19 November 2018 highlighted the need for Africa to accompany IGAD and the parties to the peace agreement for ensuring successful implementation of R-ACRSS. The meeting also agreed on two important course of action. The first and most important was the proposal for the C5 to sign as guarantors of the RARCSS.

It was also agreed that the C5 would undertake a visit to South Sudan on 2 December 2018. In a ceremony held on 21 November at the AU Commission headquarters, the C5 signed the RARCSS as guarantors. This has helped in writing the C5 into the R-ARCSS and assigning to it a role of guarantors of the peace agreement. As the briefing report would highlight, subsequently the Ambassadors of the C5 visited South Sudan on 1-5 December 2018. During the visit, the expectation of the C5 and indeed the AU to ensure the successful implementation of the peace agreement was underscored. Most importantly, the C5 were able to have first hand assessment of the challenges facing the implementation of R-ARCSS.

It is expected that the briefing will highlight the major issues facing the implementation of the RARCSS. It is to be recalled that the lack of trust between the leaders of the major parties and the problems in the security arrangement precipitated the collapse in July 2016 of the initial August 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS). Addressing this issue of the trust deficit in the political leadership remains an issue facing the R-ARCSS, which the C5 can work on to address. Other challenges observed include breaches of the ceasefire agreement, perpetration of violations against civilians and maintain the cohesion of the opposition groups signatory to the peace agreement. In a statement he delivered to the 3rd reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) board meeting held on 23 January, the Interim Chairperson A. Njoroge observed the split within the leadership of South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA), an umbrella body constituting the third group, in addition to President Salva Kiir, and SPLA-IO leader Riek Machar, to sign the R-ARCSS. Njoroge stated that ‘it should be made clear to all leaders of SSOA that what we have achieved so far must be well guarded, and we must not let our unity of purpose fragment through absence of dialogue.’ In terms of clarifying the role of the C5, there are several issues that need to be addressed. One and most important is the division of labor and the modalities for coordination and collaboration between the C5 and IGAD. This is particularly crucial for ensuring that no divergence emerges and there is a common approach in dealing with issues that arise in the implementation of the R-ARCSS. In the context of the elaboration of the terms of reference and program of work of the C5, another issue is whether and how the C5 plays a role, beyond providing political support, with respect to the implementation of specific elements of the peace agreement. Given that there is detailed matrix for the implementation of the R-ARCSS with timelines and responsibilities of different actors, the briefing is expected to highlight the areas where the C5 is best placed to make contribution in facilitating or taking a role in the implementation of the agreement. It is expected that one of the role that the C5 can play is in contributing to providing guidance in carrying out the AU’s assigned role with respect to the implementation of specific areas of the agreement, including notably in the establishment of the Transitional Justice institutions such as the Hybrid Court.

The expected outcome of the session is a communiqué. This will help in defining the broad terms of reference of the C5 within the framework of the terms of the 474th session of the PSC and identify the areas from the R-ARCSS implementation matrix where the C5 is expected to have active role in supporting implementation. The PSC may also envisage the establishment of a consultative meeting as a framework for coordination the role and support of the C5 with IGAD.


Briefing on the situation in South Sudan

South Sudan

Date | 11 June, 2019

Tomorrow (11 June) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will receive a briefing on the situation in South Sudan. The AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Smail Chergui
is expected to brief the PSC. Ethiopia as the chair of Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is expected to make a statement. South Africa as an A3 and chair of the AU High-Level Ad Hoc Committee of five countries from the five regions of the AU (C5) on South Sudan may also deliver a statement.

The signing of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (RARCSS) on 12 September 2018 has resulted in the reduction of political violence. However, ethnic and inter-communal violence, as well as clashes between government and opposition armed groups continue to be prevalent particularly in the Greater Upper Nile and the Greater Equatoria regions.

Since the last PSC field mission to South Sudan in March 2019 which aimed at following up on the implementation status of the R-ARCSS major developments have taken
place in the country as well as in the region. This PSC session is taking place at a time where key political developments in the region are evolving and taking shape.

The R-ARCSS stipulated that 12 May marks the end of the eight-month pre-transitional period and the start of the thirty six-month transitional period, with elections to be held 60 days before the end of the transitional period. In April, opposition leader Riek Machar, who is yet to return
to Juba from Sudan, called for this deadline to be extended, due to the pending key tasks and unmet political and security benchmarks of the pre-transition period set out in the R-ARCSS.

The IGAD Council of Ministers at its 67th Extra-Ordinary Session on 7 May 2019 in Juba, South Sudan, under the chairmanship of Ethiopia endorsed the extension of request and called for ‘all steps necessary be taken to expedite the implementation of the pending tasks, within this extended non-renewable timeline’. During the ministerial meeting the interim Chairperson of Revitalized Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (R-JMEC) stated that assessment report on the status of the implementation of the Pre-Transitional tasks has identified that ‘out of 59 key tasks, only 27 had been completed, 17 were still on going while 15 are pending’.

The critical tasks including cantonment, training, unification and deployment of forces, the reconstitution of the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) Commission, as well as determination of the number and boundaries of States and the restructuring and composition of the Council of States are still pending according to the R-JMEC report. A joint UN, AU and IGAD mission led by UN Under- Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Commissioner for Peace and Security of the AUC, Smail Chergui, and IGAD Special Envoy to South Sudan, Ismail Wais, visited Juba, from 10 to 12 May. The aim of the visit was to provide support to the peace process in South Sudan, complementing the 3 May 2019 agreement facilitated by IGAD that extended the pretransitional period by six months. The delegation strongly urged that the extension has to be the last one.

The most crucial issue for the success of the newly extended pre-transitional period is the implementation of the security arrangements. One challenge is the lack of funding for the implementation of the security benchmarks of the pre-transitional period. Without funding and in the absence of the implementation of the security arrangements, there is risk of the additional sixmonth pre-transitional period coming and going without the formation of the transitional national unity government. This is one of the issues that South Africa as Chair of the C5 is expected to highlight. There are already signs that implementation of the RARCSS will continue to face major challenges. Despite the six-month extension until November 2019, President Salva Kiir has stated that the formation of a unity government should be postponed by at least a year. This suggestion was made following government’s claim of its inability to disarm, house, train and integrate the country’s various force since the deal has been signed.

More particularly the upcoming rainy season was seen as a critical factor that will inhibit the completion of integration within six months. Parallel to this political process the UN Security Council has decided to renew until 31 May 2020 the arms embargo it imposed on South Sudan the previous year, as well as the sanctions imposed in 2015 on those spoiling the peace process. The resolution passed with 10 votes in favour and 5 abstentions including by the A3 block namely Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea and South Africa. The A3 group collectively argued that sanctions will not be useful for the on-going IGAD and AU led political process and further urged for a more supportive and encouraging approach towards the progress made in the country. The penholder of the resolution, the US, although discontented by the A3 position, expressed readiness to consider adjustments depending on the progress made towards peace in South Sudan. In June, the UNSC is planned to receive a briefing and deliberate on the Secretary-General’s 90-day report on South Sudan.

The last briefing that the PSC received on South Sudan was in January by the C5. The C5 has signed the RARCSS as guarantor, which helped its integration in the peace process. C5 is expected to contribute to providing guidance in carrying out their role as guarantors of the RARCSS, including in the mobilization and provision of support for the implementation of the pre-transitional benchmarks, particularly those relating to the security sector. The steps that the C5 are taking and the plan of the C5 in this respect are issues expected to receive attention in South Africa’s intervention and the deliberations by PSC members. The role of C5 is expected to further increase at this particular moment in supporting IGAD’s political effort given the leadership gap that may be created due to the absence of one of the key R-ARCSS guarantors, Sudan, both on account of the internal crisis facing Sudan and its suspension from the AU following the 3 June deadly attacks against protestors and civilians by the Transitional Military Council. The embroilment of Sudan in major political crisis is also feared to affect the South Sudan peace process in other ways given Sudan’s role in the past as a place from which the SPLM-IO and its leader Riek Machar seek support. In this context, another issue of interest for the PSC is the need for enhanced coordination and synergy between the C5, R-JMEC and IGAD. The expected outcome is a communiqué. The PSC may underline the need to prevent any further delay of the implementation of the R-ARCSS and to avoid the extension of the pre-transitional period. It may reiterate the recommendations made by R-JMEC and call on the reconstitution of the DDR Commission, for the Transitional Government of National Unity to disburse the funds pledged to the National Pre-Transitional Committee and the Independent Boundaries Commission to expedite its work and submit its report immediately. It may further call on AU member states and partners to support addressing the financial constraints and provide technical assistance in the various security mechanisms.


Consideration of the AU Commission Chairperson Report on South Sudan

South Sudan

Date | 15 October, 2019

Tomorrow (15 October) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will have a session for considering the report of the AU Commission Chairperson on the Situation in South Sudan. The Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui, is expected to introduce the report with an update on the state of implementation of the Revitalized – Agreement on the Resolution of the conflict in South Sudan (R‐ARCSS). Ethiopia, as the Chair of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), is also expected to make a statement in the partially open segment of the session ahead of the closed session.

The last time the AUPSC received a briefing on South Sudan was on 11 June 2019 following the extension of the Pre‐transition period for six months until 12 November. Barely a month is now left for the expiry of the extended timeline, which according to the decision of the IGAD Council of Ministers, will not be renewable. The key question remains whether enough progress has been made in implementing the pre‐transitional tasks, which are instrumental for the establishment of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (RTGoNU) come 12 November 2019. As things currently stand, the answer seems to be far from reassuring. Last month marked the first anniversary of the signing of the R‐ARCSS. That the agreement is so far holding is considered as good news in and of itself. Many of the various institutions and mechanisms set out by the agreement have been established. Various representatives of the opposition parties have also moved back to Juba. Fighting has also subsided and the displacement of people due to conflict is said to have significantly decreased. But there is still sporadic fighting between the parties and non‐signatory groups and intercommunal violence continuing to claim the lives of innocent civilians.

In terms of implementing the R‐ARCSS, the positive developments notwithstanding, challenges abound in terms of making tangible progress regarding the implementation of pre‐transitional tasks. Key among these, which is of interest for today’s PSC session, is, of course, the implementation of the security arrangements and the resolution of the boundaries issue. The Chairperson’s report is expected to highlight the various developments not only generally in the situation in South Sudan but also importantly in the implementation of the pre‐transitional tasks of the RARCSS. The IGAD Council of Ministers at its meeting held on 21st August 2019 in Addis Ababa decided that at least 50% of the 83 thousand necessary unified forces should be cantoned and barracked, trained and deployed before the end of September. According to UN reports, currently, out of the 35 cantonment sites planned, 23 are said to have now been occupied by opposition forces and 10 by the Government. Food, water and other resources have also been delivered to the sites. However, there is lack of amenities and there is serious financial and logistical constraint. TGoNU had pledge to provide 100 million USD to support implementation but only few of that amount has so far been disbursed. According to SRSG David Sherer, who recently briefed the UN Security Council (UNSC) on the latest in South Sudan, “more fundamental differences also persist. The opposition foresees a newly constituted security sector, whereas the Government presumes that opposition troops will be subsumed into existing forces”. On the other hand, the Independent Boundaries Commission, which was supposed to address the number of states and their boundaries was unable to reach consensus.

Although the IGAD Special Envoy has been exerting efforts to engage the non‐signatory parties and bring them on board, it has so far not been successful. In fact, the holdout opposition groups had organized a meeting in The Hague at the end of August with a view to forging a united front against Juba. The meeting was said to have been attended by General Thomas Cirillo, Pagan Amum, General Oyai Deng Ajak, Cirino Hiteng, Sunday de John, Thomas Tut and other opposition officials. General Paul Malong was also said to have joined the meeting via teleconference.

It is against this backdrop that the face‐to‐face meeting between President Salva Kiir Mayardit and the First Vice President‐Designate, Riek Machar Teny took place in Juba last month. The meeting, according to IGAD, is said to have resulted in a way forward particularly on addressing pending Security Arrangements issues. The meeting also called for a Committee to address the sensitive issue of the boundaries. The meeting was welcomed by the region and the international community at large injecting renewed impetus to the
peace process.

However, not long after the face‐to‐face meeting, SPLMIO issued a statement condemning what President Salva Kiir is alleged to have said during prayers held at the
Presidential Palace. The statement accused the president of asserting that the revitalized transitional government will be formed without the SPLM‐IO, which it argued, contradicts the outcome of the face‐to‐face meeting. The situation was further compounded by the defection of an SPLM‐IO General – James Ochan Puot – to the
government side. These and the increasing fracture of the various groupings in the opposition camp is said to be threatening to overshadow the positive atmosphere observed following the face‐to‐face meeting.

The Deputy Spokesperson of SPLM‐IO is reported to have said that they [SPLM‐IO] will not be part of a unity government without proper security arrangements and agreement on the internal boundaries of states. Lam Akol, the leader of the National Democratic Movement,
echoed these sentiments.

The remaining few weeks before the expiry of the pretransition period are no doubt going to be very critical. It has become very clear that the key benchmarks set out in the R‐ARCSS may not be met and, therefore, the hope and expectation now is that they could be carried out
during the transition period with the formation of an inclusive and Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity. IGAD is expected to meet at the level of Heads of State and Government during the course of this
month and one of the likely issues to feature on the agenda of the Summit will be the situation in South Sudan.

The UNSC has issued a Presidential Statement on 8 October 2019, under the South African Presidency, welcoming the face to face meeting and the initial progress made in implementing the R‐ARCSS. It called on Parties to speed up implementation of the transitional security arrangements and to continue consultation on the issue of the number and boundaries of states with a view to finding a common solution. The UNSC stressed that actions which threaten the peace, security or stability of South Sudan may be subject to sanctions and it affirmed that it shall be prepared to adjust measures contained in the relevant resolutions in light of the implementation of the parties’ commitments, including the ceasefire.

The Chair of the Security Council Committee 2206 on South Sudan is on a visit South Sudan and the region, including Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda as part of the regular consultation. In the following days, the delegation of the UNSC is also scheduled to visit Juba before their joint annual consultation with the PSC in Addis Ababa. Machar is said to have been requested to travel with them to Juba.

What has become clear both from the pre‐transitional period tasks that are outstanding and the statements of the opposition parties is that what will happen come 12 November 2019 is very difficult to predict. This uncertainty has made the need for contingency planning is a necessity. It would be of particular interest for PSC members to learn from Chergui AU’s engagements since the last PSC session on South Sudan and the options available to it, working along with IGAD and the UN, for heling the parties address the main outstanding issues to prevent the derailment of the transitional process. The expected outcome of the session is a communique.

While welcoming some of the progress made including the face‐to‐face meeting between President Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar, the PSC could underscore the need for the signatories to continue demonstrating the necessary political will and commitment to establish agreed mechanisms to address all outstanding issues in the implementation of pre‐transitional tasks, notably those relating to security arrangements and the number and boundaries of states. The AUPSC could urge the TGoNU to avail the necessary resources for the implementation of the agreement and appeal to AU member states and partners to provide financial and technical assistance in this regard. It may also echo the call by the UNSC to IGAD to appoint the Chair of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission.


Briefing on the Situation in South Sudan

South Sudan

Date | 14 November, 2019

Tomorrow (14 November), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will have a session on the situation in South Sudan. This comes two days after the
expiry of the extended deadline for the implementation of the pre‐transitional tasks. It is expected that Joram Biswaro, the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission for South Sudan, is expected to brief the PSC. The last time the AUPSC met to discuss South Sudan was one month ago when it considered the report on the Chairperson of the Commission on the situation in the country. This session is expected to focus on assessment of the latest situation in South Sudan, including the extension of the pre‐transitional period by 100 days and the role the AU could play for completion of the pretransitional tasks within the 100 days.

Considering the limited progress made in implementing the pre‐transitional tasks, no one was sure what would happen on 12 November 2019. IGAD and the rest of the international community were insisting that the extended timeline is non‐renewable, and that an inclusive transitional government should be formed on the set timeline. President Kiir was also saying that the transitional government will be formed. By contrast, Dr.Reikh Machar was insisting that his forces will not join the transitional government without meaningful progress on the implementation of the pre‐transitional tasks, particularly relating to Transitional Security Arrangements and the determination of the number and boundaries of states.

The last two weeks have seen increased activities to avoid the worst and salvage the revitalized peace agreement, including the preservation of the cessation of hostilities and the ceasefire, which ensured a modicum

of stability. The Security Council had visited Juba and talked with the parties. IGAD had also dispatched a delegation to Juba to undertake similar consultations.

Furthermore, members of the Troika also visited Juba and did the same. President Salva Kiir and Dr. Reikh Machar met face to face on three occasions, twice in Juba and the last one in Kampala.
What eventually saved the situation is the Tripartite Summit that was convened in Kampala by Sudan and
Uganda in their capacity as co‐guarantors of the agreement. The meeting was critical to facilitate agreement between President Kiir and Dr. Machar to extend the pre‐transitional period for one hundred (100) days effective from 12 November and review progress after fifty days from that date. The two principals also agreed to establish a mechanism involving the parties and the guarantors to monitor the implementation of the pending tasks. Under the circumstances, the outcome of the Kampala Tripartite Summit was the least bad option in trying to salvage the revitalized peace agreement and preserve the cessation of hostilities and the ceasefire agreement, thereby avoiding a relapse into another cycle of violence.

Of critical importance for tomorrow’s PSC session is the key question of whether the parties will use this window to expedite the implementation of the critical pending
tasks. In this regard, it would be of interest to PSC member states to know the role that the AU and its office in Juba would play in supporting the process for achieving the implementation of the pre‐transitional tasks including, a clear roadmap and follow‐up mechanism.

In terms of helping effective utilization of the limited window of opportunity that the 100 days extension presented, IGAD held two important meetings as a follow‐up to the Kampala Tripartite summit. IGAD convened a consultative meeting of the parties in Addis Ababa on 9 November 2019, ahead of the extraordinary meeting of its Council of Ministers on 10 November 2019. The consultative meeting endorsed the outcome of the Kampala Tripartite Summit, including the extension of the pre‐transitional period for 100 days effective from 12 November 2019. The IGAD Council of Ministers, which met on the following day welcomed the outcome of the consultative meeting of the parties, including the endorsement of Kampala Tripartite Summit communique.

The IGAD Council of Ministers initiated the steps to be taken towards the completion of the key pre‐transitional tasks within the 100 days. The IGAD Council instructed
the IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan in collaboration with R‐JMEC, CTSAMVM and the AU Commission to urgently organize a workshop for security mechanisms in Juba to agree on a roadmap with clear timeline for the implementation of Transitional Security Arrangements within the one hundred (100) days extension. It further directed its Special Envoy to facilitate a meeting of the Parties to the R‐ARCSS to resolve the issue of the number of states and their boundaries and any other outstanding issues pertaining to the establishment of the Revitalized‐ Transitional Government of National Unity (R‐TGoNU).

While these two areas are expected to be a priority, the IGAD Council set the ambition higher by requesting the Special Envoy to continue engaging the non‐signatories to the R‐ARCSS and organize a retreat for the Leaders of the Parties to the RARCSS for trust and confidence building as soon as possible. The Special Envoy has also been entrusted with closely monitoring the progress of implementation of the critical pending tasks during the extended Pre‐Transitional Period in close collaboration with Revitalized‐Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (R‐JMEC) and CTSAMVM. The Ministers called on the Incumbent TGoNU to immediately disburse the USD 100 million to National Pre‐Transitional Committee (NPTC) to enable the completion of the critical pending tasks. In addition, they called on regional and international partners to provide the necessary support to expedite the implementation of pending tasks, while appreciating those that have already done so.

After its visit to Juba, the UN Security Council (UNSC) met and held consultations on the situation in South Sudan last week. The UNSC expressed concern on the lack of substantive progress in the implementation of key elements of the revitalized peace agreement and called on the parties to reaffirm their commitment to the full implementation of the agreement, to clear benchmarks and the cessation of hostilities and ceasefire agreements.

The Council also called on the parties to make immediate progress on pre‐transitional tasks, including the security arrangements and a process for the resolution of the number and boundaries of states in order to allow for the peaceful formation of an inclusive transitional government.

Secretary‐General Antonio Guterres, in welcoming the decision of the IGAD Council of Ministers based on to the agreement reached in Kampala under the auspices of the Co‐Guarantors, urged the parties to use this extension to make further progress on critical benchmarks, including security arrangements and the number and boundaries of states, to allow for the formation of an inclusive transitional government of national unity. He also echoed the call made by IGAD for the Government of South Sudan to release the pledged amount of $100 million through a transparent and accountable mechanism.

The expected outcome of the session is a communique. AUPSC could welcome the face‐to‐face meeting between President Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar, leader of the SPLMIO, the signatory of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the South Sudan Conflict (R‐ARSSC). It may also welcome the communique adopted by the Tripartite Summit in Kampala, including the agreement reached to extend the pre‐transitional period by hundred days. The Council may endorse the outcome of the consultative meeting of the parties in Addis Ababa and the decision adopted by the IGAD Council of Ministers. It could also urge the parties to demonstrate the necessary political will and commitment to the Revitalized Peace Agreement as the only viable framework for resolving the conflict in South Sudan and build trust and confidence to expedite the implementation of the critical pending tasks to facilitate the formation of an inclusive transitional government. In this connection, it may support the call by IGAD for developing a clear roadmap and the setting up of mechanisms for monitoring and follow up of implementation in collaboration with the AU Commission. It may also call on the parties to exert every possible effort to finding a consensual solution to the issue of number of states and their boundaries. The AUPSC may urge the TGoNU to avail the necessary resources for the implementation of the agreement and appeal to AU member states and partners to provide financial and technical assistance in this regard.


PSC Briefing on South Sudan and Consideration of the Report on the PSC Field Mission

South Sudan

Date | 26 April, 2018

Tomorrow (26 April), the Peace and Security Council (PSC) will receive briefing on the Situation in South Sudan and consider the report of the PSC field mission to South Sudan that took place
from 14-19 April 2018. Andrews Atta-Asamoah, member of the United Nations (UN) Panel of Experts on South Sudan is expected to brief the PSC on the situation in South Sudan within the framework of the mandate of the Panel. The regional bound Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is also expected to make a statement. Others expected to intervene include the Special Representative of the AU Commission Chairperson and South Sudan.

The five-day field mission was a follow up to a decision of the PSC at its meeting held on 8 February 2018 to undertake a field mission to South Sudan in the month of April 2018. The February meeting scheduled and planned the mission with an objective of putting pressure on the stakeholders to the conflict to implement the Agreement for the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS), and to promote and support the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) led High Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF). The mission was preceded by a crucial visit on 11-12 April 2018 to South Africa by Moussa Faki, Chairperson of the AU Commission where he discussed the peace process in South Sudan with President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, and met with the head of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM/iO) Riek Machar to urge support for the HLRF. Tomorrow’s meeting will receive updates on the HLRF and the third round of peace talks, initially scheduled for 26-30 April now postponed to 2 – 6 May 2018.

The PSC delegation which included all members of the Council, and led by the chair of the month for April, Nigeria, met with wide range of government officials and civil society stakeholders and with members of intergovernmental and international organizations in South Sudan. The delegation had discussions with President Salva Kiir and Vice-President Taban Deng Gai on the HLRF and the hybrid court among others. Members of the Steering Committee of the National Dialogue, the Special Representation of the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) and the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) are other stakeholders the PSC delegation conversed with in its mission on the peace process, protection of civilians and humanitarian assistance. The delegation also met with the African ambassadors in Juba, leaders of faith-based organizations, and visited the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and conversed with their representatives on the humanitarian situation in South Sudan.

Tomorrow’s meeting is taking place in the background of the fresh eruption of violence last week in areas near the capital Juba, and the Gezira town in Rubkona county. The SPLM/iO accused the government of major offensive while Juba admitted heavy fighting with rebels in Gezira town. The field mission by the PSC indicates a more visible role by the Council in initiatives to resolve the South Sudan crisis, and increased interest to add impetus to the five years long peace process by IGAD. The emphasis by the PSC on the need to upscale role by the AU High Level Ad Hoc Committee and the AU High Representative for South Sudan, Alpha Oumar Konare is an indication to a bigger AU role in the process while recognizing IGAD as the lead. The field mission and the call for more role for AU in South Sudan came as complementarity between the PSC and IGAD in efforts to resolve the South Sudan conflict was witnessing improvement in line with the principle of subsidiarity, and as patience run low towards the continued violation of the secession of hostilities and the broader agreement demanding a coordinated and serious response.

Increased AU role in the South Sudan crisis and peace process will demand synergy among the different organizations, initiatives and mechanisms. Ways to improve regular interactions and
updates between the AU High Level Ad Hoc Committee, the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), the AU Commission and UN system to support the IGAD led efforts will be discussed by the meeting.

The IGAD Council of Ministers which held its 61st Extra-Ordinary Session on 26 March 2018 in Addis Ababa decided to impose targeted sanctions against individual violators of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA). The meeting also referred the case to the PSC for ‘appropriate punitive measures’ targeting spoilers of the process. The IGAD proposed sanctions are expected to receive serious attention by council members. One of the issues that will take center stage at the briefing will be the issue of the hybrid court. The PSC delegation raised and discussed the need for enhancing cooperation between the AU and Juba to materialize the establishment of the court as an institutional foundation for the transitional justice process in South Sudan. The PSC sees the hybrid court, which is envisioned as a major component of the Agreement for the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) signed on 15 August 2015, as a major pillar of the process that needs urgent attention and action. The meeting is expected to reinforce its call at its 8 February meeting for the immediate signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the establishment of the hybrid court and repeat its request on Juba to ‘ensure the timely domestication of the MoU through the Transitional Legislative Assembly and to step up efforts in establishing the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing, and the Compensation and Reparations Authority as provided for by the ARCSS’. The meeting will also emphasize the need for synergy and harmony between the HLRF, the National Dialogue and the Reunification process of the SPLM.

The report by the PSC delegation will also cover the state of the humanitarian situation in South Sudan and the issue of protection of civilians. The meeting is expected to be tough on activities that disrupt and obstruct delivery and distribution of life-saving humanitarian assistance for the IDPs, and the broader South Sudanese public. In this light, the meeting will look at the delay in the deployment of the Regional Protection Force (RPF) and expected to pass strong call to the United Nation Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) and troop contributing countries to realize the civilian protection unit in the next few months.

The expected outcome of this session is a communique.


Summit Level Session on South Sudan

South Sudan

Date | 30 June, 2018

Tomorrow (30 June 2018), the Peace and Security Council (PSC) will have a summit
level session on South Sudan. The Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission is expected to provide a briefing report to the session. Others expected to address the summit include South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as Chair of the High level Ad Hoc Committee on South Sudan and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, in his capacity as Chair of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD). It is also anticipated that President Omar Hussein Al-Bashir of Sudan and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni will brief the PSC
on the talks that was convened in Khartoum and the subsequent signing of a declaration of agreement by President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Dr Riek Machar.

As framed on the agenda of the session, this meeting in part aims at reviewing
implementation of the PSC decision of its 720th meeting held on 20 September 2017. In this respect, the PSC would be interested to assess the progress made in terms of the IGAD peace process under the High-Level Revitalization Forum and the tripartite coordination between IGAD, AU and UN, and the signing and domestication of the MoU on the establishment of the Hybrid Court. Additionally, a major area of concern has also been the continuation of the conflict and violation of agreed terms particularly in relation to the ceasefire.

In terms of the briefing from the Chairperson of the AU Commission, issues expected to be covered include the continued nonimplementation and violation of commitments that the parties made under the ongoing peace process. Apart from expressing concern about these continuing challenges, it is expected that the PSC would urge support for and reinforcement of the role of the Joint Evaluation and Monitoring Mechanism (JMEC) and the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanisms (CTSAMM). In this respect, the briefing note underscores the need for equipping and enabling the CTSAMM to speedily investigate and report all violations. With respect to the role of the AU, one area that may receive close attention is the role of the High-Level Ad Hoc Committee of the AU on South Sudan. Indeed, the PSC summit follows immediately after the meeting of Ad Hoc Committee that President Ramaphosa is expected to chair. Apart from reviewing the state of the South Sudan peace process, the issue of how to leverage and reinforce the role of the Committee vis-à-vis the work of IGAD is expected to be high on the agenda of the Committee’s meeting. This is expected to feed into the PSC summit, which may define how best to leverage the role of the Committee. As the summit reviews the progress in the peace process, very important focus of tomorrow’s session is expected to be the recent round of the HLRF, including most notably the signing of the ‘Khartoum Declaration of Agreement between parties of the conflict of South Sudan’ on 27 June. As part of the IGAD briefing it is expected to update the PSC on the
recent round of the HLRF, which convened talks between the parties on governance and security arrangements from 17 to 23 June.

With the parties unable to reach a compromise, the IGAD proposed a “Bridging
Proposal” outlining a middle ground on the parties’ negotiating positions related to key governance and security issues. In further attempt to get the parties to resolve their differences, the IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government convened on 21 June its 32nd Extraordinary Session in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia focusing on South Sudan. To this end, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister and IGAD Chairperson Abiy Ahmed brought President Kiir and Machar for a face-to-face meeting for the first time since the collapse of the peace agreement in 2016. With the parties still unable to agree to the IGAD bridging proposal, the IGAD Assembly assigned Sudan’s President Bashir to facilitate a second round face-to-face meeting between the two. This meeting convened in Khartoum with the presence of President Musenevi, who was not present during the IGAD Assembly meeting in Addis Ababa, led to the signing by the two sides the declaration of agreement referred to above. Others who signed the agreement are representatives of the South Sudan Opposition Alliance, Former Detainees and other political parties. Notably, it was witnessed by the IGAD Special Envoy and members of the Troika (Norway, the UK and the US) with Sudanese
President Omar al-Bashir as its guarantor.

In terms of content, the declaration stipulated that instead of IGAD’s proposal a ‘Revised Bridging Proposal’ will be concluded by the end of the current round of talks in Khartoum. Whether this has indeed been concluded and what the contents of the revised bridging proposal would be part of the issues that
President Bashir is expected to clarify in his briefing to the PSC. As indicated in the statement that the AU Commission Chairperson issued, the PSC is expected to welcome the signing of the declaration in Khartoum. For PSC members, given the repeated violation of previous agreements by the parties, there is interest to know the level of commitment of the parties for complying with the agreement. In this context, it is interesting if this signal for achieving a settlement would avoid discussion on punitive measures. As envisaged in the AUC Chair’s briefing note, the PSC could indeed welcome the outcome of the 62nd meeting of IGAD Council of Ministers and PSC’s 720th session decision to impose punitive measures against those who obstruct peace and violate peace agreements.

Other issues of interest from the perspective of the PSC relate to the operationalization of the Hybrid Court for which the AU has a responsibility under the South Sudan Peace Agreement. In this respect, despite the fact that the Government of South Sudan signed the MoU on the establishment of the Hybrid Court with the AU, it has not adopted the relevant legislative measure for the domestication of the MoU. A further issue for the PSC is the invitation by the parties in the Khartoum Declaration of Agreement of AU member states and IGAD to deploy the necessary forces to supervise the agreed
permanent ceasefire. What this actually means and how it can be operationalized would be of
interest to PSC members.

The expected outcome of the PSC summit is a communiqué. This is expected to commend the efforts of IGAD including the recent rounds of the HLRF and the IGAD Council of Ministers
and Summit meetings held in Addis Ababa. Most importantly, it would also welcome the signing of the Khartoum Declaration. As a measure that is necessary to support the peace process, the communiqué is also expected to encourage Sudan and South Sudan to intensify efforts to promote their bilateral relations particularly for the resumption of oil production in South Sudan. It is also expected to reiterate and endorse the plan for imposing punitive sanctions, while urging the speedy finalization of the conclusion of negotiation on the bridging
proposals. For the PSC, it would also be important to put in place a mechanism for finalizing the process of domestication of the MoU for the operationalization of the Hybrid Court. The issue of monitoring compliance with the cessation of hostilities agreement and the provision of humanitarian assistance and unfettered access to humanitarian actors would also receive attention.


AU-UN Briefing on joint field visit to South Sudan

South Sudan

Date | 10 October, 2018

Tomorrow (10 October) the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) will receive a briefing from Smail Chergui, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security and Jean-Pierre Lacroix, UN Under Secretary- General for Peacekeeping Operations. The session will listen to the reports by the two officials on the political and security developments in South Sudan, and on the contribution, gaps and future of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), and its relations with the Regional Protection Force (RPF).

The briefing by Chergui and Lacroix follows their joint visit to South Sudan along with the co-chair of the AU FemWise, Speciosa Wandira Kazibwe and the Executive Director for UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. The visit took place from 07 to 09 October. During the visit, they had talks with members of the South Sudanese government including the President and first vice President, the leadership of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), and women leaders and organizations in Juba and Bentiu, including those at the
UN Protection of Civilians sites.

The joint mission to South Sudan had two objectives. The first concerns the promotion of the peace agreement. The second focuses on enhancing the participation of women in the implementation of the peace agreement. It is to be recalled that the South Sudanese parties signed the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS), on 12 September 2018.

In terms of the first aspect of the joint visit, apart from the opportunity that the visit presented to the delegation for expressing support for the peace agreement, it was also an occasion for first hand exchange on the implementation of the peace agreement and role that UN Mission to South Sudan (UNMISS) and the Rapid Protection Force (RPF) could play and the contribution that the AU could make in supporting the implementation process. The visit also enabled the delegation to have a better understanding of the challenges facing the implementation of the RARCSS. With respect to the second dimension of the visit, the delegation sought to highlight tangible actions on women’s meaningful participation and leadership in the implementation of the peace agreement. Important part of such enhanced role of women is also the representation of women in the committee for the implementation of the peace agreement that the government constituted and in the transitional
government of national unity.

Tomorrow’s session is thus expected to examine the political and security developments in South Sudan and the role and partnership of the UN and the AU in the next phases of the peace and political processes. This would enable the PSC not only to be appraised of where the implementation of the R-ARCSS stands and the steps that the parties to the agreement are taking in this direction.

The 12 September agreement was followed by a positive announcement by President Kiir calling for the immediate release of all opposition fighters and political prisoners. Juba subsequently releases twenty political prisoners. However, serious differences still remain on who should be included in the pardon list. Despite some of these positive developments, there is a legitimate skepticism on the seriousness and commitment of the parties of the conflict to implement the latest rounds of the agreement. The signatories have repeatedly failed to respect the spirit and words of previous deals, and the capacity and power of the two leaders to command and control the proliferated and undisciplined armed groups they lead presents a further challenge. The SPLM-IO also recently reported that there were at least five violations of the ceasefire by the government forces since 12 September. There were also reports of serious clashes between government and opposition forces in Equatoria and Unity states on 24 September.

The insecurity in the country still affects the activities and movement of the UNMISS. Days after the 12 September agreement in Addis, a UNMISS peacekeeper was injured when a government solider fired at a U.N. convoy. Repeated violations of previous attempts to stop the violence and consolidate the peace, and antagonism of some members of the leadership in Juba towards the UN have put the role of the UMMISS in doubt.

The appointment by the South Sudan government of Gen. Malek Reuben Riak as deputy minister of defense has attracted strong international criticisms. Gen Riak has been repeatedly accused of obstructing peace and blocking humanitarian assistance, and is sanctioned by the U.S. and U.N. The divisive general has also been implicated with arming a militia that committed gross violations of human rights, and war crimes by a 2016 U.N. Panel of Experts. The decision isn’t the first of its kind as President Kiir appointed Gabriel Jok Riak, another figure on the UN sanctions list accused of obstructing peace and repeatedly violating the terms of the peace agreements, as army chief of staff.

Tomorrow’s briefing will also be an occasion for PSC members to be appraised of the progress made and challenges faced in the implementation of the peace agreement. It would be of interest for the PSC to be informed of risks of repeat of the violations that hindered the implementation of the August 2015 initial agreement and importantly what role the AU could play for supporting the full implementation of the revitalized peace agreement.

The head of the UN Mission in South Sudan David Shearer recently highlighted the lack of the ‘key ingredient’ in the latest agreement. Shearer said the personalities behind the deal have a complex past and ‘suspicions still remains widespread’, and there is a lack of trust. The briefing offers an opportunity for discussing what the UN-AU partnership can do to enhance trust and the important role that the enhanced participation and representation of women could play for enhancing the legitimacy and effective
implementation of the peace agreement. In terms of the second dimension of the joint visit, how the AU supports the representation and participation of women in the implementation of the peace agreement including the role that the AU FemWise could play in this regard would also be of particular interest for the PSC. It is likely that this dimension of the visit would also feature in the session of the PSC on UN Resolution 1325 expected to take place on 19 October.

While it was not the focus of the joint field mission, one area of the peace agreement that implicates the role of the AU is the operationalization of the Hybrid Court, a major element of the peace agreement and the political process. The details of the operationalization and operations of the court with South Sudanese judges and international war crimes experts is articulated under chapter five of the revitalized peace agreement. The chapter also envisions the establishment of the hybrid court and puts mechanisms for the compensation and reparations of the victims of crimes committed during the conflict. Although the Government of South Sudan signed the MoU on the establishment of the Hybrid Court with the AU, it has not adopted the relevant legislative measure for the domestication of the MoU. Following the announcement of amnesty by the government, concerns were raised on the implication of the amnesty for the mandate of the hybrid court in establishing accountability for atrocities committed against South Sudanese civilians. Despite this mounting pressure against impunity, earlier this month, the Minster for Information of South Sudan Michael Makuei said that his government is opposed to the creation of a war crimes court. The minster which labeled the court ‘a tool of regime change by the troika’ added that peace must be the priority of the involvement of the international community in South Sudan. He accused the hybrid court as ‘an instrument they want to use against the people of South Sudan, especially the leadership of South Sudan. They want to use it in a sense that because the agreement gives the hybrid court the right to indict anybody at any time and once you are indicted, you are apprehended and taken to jail’.

Within the broader discussion on the peace agreement, the session also affords an opportunity for examining developments in the IGAD led Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) and the state of the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) in the framework of
the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS), including the planned deployment of troops from Sudan for securing the oil infrastructure. The briefing by Chergui and Lacroix is also expected to look into the progress made in the deployment of the Regional Protection Force (RPF), its harmonization with the UNAMISS and its role vis-à-vis the revitalized peace agreement. The force which is created with a mission of protection of civilians and mandate to secure Juba will have a capacity of 4,000 at full capacity. So far, 2,400 of these troops have been deployed. There are uncertainties and lack of clarity on how these forces will engage and coordinate with the 8,000 peacekeepers under UNMISS. The expected outcome of the briefing is a communiqué.


Briefing on review of the structure and mandate of the RPF of UNMISS

South Sudan

Date | 20 December, 2018

Today 20 December, the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) will have a briefing session on the Regional Protection Force (RPF) for South Sudan. Convened on the request of Ethiopia as Chair of the Inter‐Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the briefing is expected to provide update on the proposed review of the structure and the mandate of the (RPF). This is initiated as part of the effort to support the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R‐ARCSS) signed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 12 September 2018.

This session also builds on the 800th session of the PSC held on 10 October 2018. In the communiqué it adopted on that session, the PSC requested ‘the Parties, together with IGAD and the UN, to finalise the matter relating to the deployment of the Regional Protection Force (RPF), as soon as possible, in order to ensure that the protection of civilians mandate is not compromised’.

The PSC is expected to receive the briefing from Woinshet Tadesse of Ethiopia, representing the Chairperson of IGAD. It is to be recalled that on 16 November, the IGAD Council of Ministers held an extraordinary session on South Sudan. The communiqué of that session envisaged submission of a report to ‘the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) and the UN Security Council on concrete proposals to revise the mandate and structure of the RPF to allow the participation of all IGAD Member States’.

The IGAD minister’s decision was a follow up to the IGAD Assembly decision. Earlier in September, the extraordinary summit of the IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government took a decision to seek from the Security Council review of the mandate of the RPF ‘to allow Sudan, Uganda, Djibouti and Somalia as guarantors, to contribute forces to enhance the protection and security throughout the implementation of the R‐ARCSS.’ Acting on the request of the IGAD Assembly and the subsequent IGAD Ministers meeting, The IGAD
Chiefs of Defence Staff/Forces established a joint technical assessment team, which visited South
Sudan from 3 to 10 November to assess the security situation, with a view to reviewing the regional protection force mandate. On 22 November, the assessment team presented its report to the IGAD Chiefs of Defence Staff/Forces, who decided to formalize its recommendation to integrate forces from Djibouti, Somalia, the Sudan and Uganda into the UNMISS regional protection force.

The deployment of the RPF first received the endorsement of the AU Assembly during the July 2016 summit. In its decision on South Sudan, the Assembly
endorsed ‘the communique of the Summit meeting of the Heads of State and Government of the IGAD‐Plus, in particular with respect to the reinforcement of UNMISS as proposed by the UN Secretary‐General and the call to the UN Security Council to extend the Mission of UNMISS with a revised mandate, including the deployment of a regional protection force to separate the warring parties, protect major installations and civilian population and demilitarize Juba’.

This was followed by the UN Security Council Resolution 2304, which extended the mandate of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) authorizing the expansion of the mission with deployment of a 4,000‐strong RPF. The mandate of the RPF under Resolution 2304 was to ‘facilitate the conditions for safe and free movement into, out of, and around Juba’; ‘protect the airport to ensure the airport remains operational, and protect key facilities in Juba;’ and ‘Promptly and effectively engage any actor that is credibly found to be preparing attacks, or engages in attacks, against United Nations protection of civilians sites, other United Nations premises, United Nations personnel, international and national humanitarian actors, or civilians.’ Over two years since the adoption of Resolution 2304, only a total of 2,226 troops making up the RPF have thus far been deployed, according to a report of the Secretary General of the UN submitted to the UNSC early this month.

Resistance from the government of South Sudan was one of the major factors that slowed down the deployment of the RPF. At the time of the adoption of Resolution 2304 the representative of South Sudan to the UN stated the Government’s rejection of the resolution. One of the major points of contention
between the Government and UN was over the deployment of the RPF to protect Juba airport. At present, South Sudan’s government is more receptive of the planned deployment of the troops from new contributors as part of RPF. After the visit from the Cheifs of Defense Staff/Forces of IGAD countries last month, the Minister of Cabinet Affairs informed reporters that the government has cleared the regional protection force for deployment in Juba. The meeting is also expected to reflect on the implementation of the R‐ARCSS, that the South Sudanese conflict parties and other political forces signed on 12 September and since then. Of particular current importance for the session is the report on the attacks against the members of the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM) by South Sudanese troops. A press release of the CTSAMVM that came out on 19 December condemned in the strongest terms what it called ‘appalling attack on its Monitoring and Verification Team in the Luri Area’ involving assault and illegal detention of senior ranking male and female officers by South Sudanese security forces.

It is not clear in what ways such major breach would inform the mandate of the RPF but ensuring the protection of the CTSAMVM is key for the effective implementation of the Revitalized Agreement. The outcome of today’s session of the PSC offers IGAD the foundation for requesting the consideration and adoption of the review of the mandate and composition of the RPF within the framework of UNMISS.

In terms of the review of the mandate the newly restructured RPF will be tasked with the protection of the opposition leaders once they return to the country to take part in the transitional government. It is also expected that the review of the mandate of the RPF to allow Djibouti, Somalia, the Sudan and Uganda to serve as guarantors of the Revitalized Agreement to contribute forces and will enable the full deployment of the force into UNMISS.