9281st Meeting (AM)

Security Council Extends Mandate of United Nations Mission in South Sudan, Adopting Resolution 2677 (2023) by 13 Votes in Favour, 2 Abstentions

Text Places Conditions on Assistance, Country Representative Says, Urging Future Efforts Reflect Collaborative Spirit

The Security Council today decided to extend the mandate of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan for one year, as two delegates abstained over the incorporation of certain language while raising issues regarding the penholder’s approach.

Adopting resolution 2677 (2023) (to be issued as document S/RES/2677(2023)) under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations by a vote of 13 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (China, Russian Federation), the 15-nation organ decided to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) until 15 March 2024 and to maintain its force levels with a ceiling of 17,000 troops and 2,101 police personnel.

By the text, the Council mandated UNMISS to carry out tasks in four key areas — protection of civilians; creation of conditions conducive to the delivery of humanitarian assistance; support for the implementation of the Revised Agreement and the Peace Process; and the monitoring, investigating, and reporting on violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights — while requesting the Secretary-General to inform it of any obstacles and stressing that the protection of civilians shall be given priority. 

The Council also directed UNMISS to ensure effective, timely and dynamic protection through a comprehensive and integrated approach; promptly and effectively engage any actor credibly found to be preparing attacks or engaging in attacks again civilians, internally displaced persons camps and the UNMISS protection of civilian sites; and maintain a proactive deployment and a mobile, flexible, robust and effective posture. 

Also by the text, the Council underscored that elections should be viewed as a phased approach and that UNMISS should focus in the near-term on key conditions, including the prevention of a further escalation of political violence; creation of conditions for an inclusive, constitutional drafting and review process; and the prerequisite inclusive civil space to conduct free and fair elections.

Further by the text, the Council called for strengthening the Mission’s sexual- and gender-based violence prevention and response activities and called upon the Government of South Sudan to expedite the implementation of the action plan on addressing conflict-related sexual violence and hold those responsible to account.  Expressing deep concern about the delays in implementing the Revitalized Agreement, the Council called on the parties to implement it fully and called for the full, equal and meaningful participation of women, civil society and others in all conflict resolution and peacebuilding efforts.

The Council also called upon the Government and other relevant actors to utilize robust conflict-sensitive analysis to provide security to re-designated civilian-protection sites; make progress on a conducive political environment for elections; and implement security arrangements by ensuring the regular and adequate payment of salaries to the necessary unified forces, among other things.

In other terms of the text, the Council requested the Secretary-General to provide a comprehensive written report every 90 days, which should include an analysis of risks associated with climate change that may adversely impact peace and security in South Sudan and the implementation of the Mission’s mandate.  In addition, it requested him to provide no later than 15 October 2023 a separate independently conducted impact assessment of the Mission’s implementation of its civilian protection mandate as well as a separate report with a detailed analysis of the political, security, and economic factors delaying the Revitalized Agreement’s implementation; an assessment of prerequisite conditions for credible elections; an integrated United Nations transition strategy; and recommendations on adapting the Mission.

Following the adoption, Harold Adlai Agyeman (Ghana), also speaking for Gabon and Mozambique, said he voted in favour because the Mission continues to be a stabilizing factor and remains critical in addressing the multifaceted social, economic, political and security challenges in South Sudan.  Gabon, Ghana and Mozambique all engaged in constructive dialogue during negotiations to ensure that the African perspective — including the concerns of the South Sudanese authorities — was reflected in the text to the extent possible.   While more could have been done, the present text is the outcome of best efforts and forms a good basis for future improvements that may be required. 

Anna M. Evstigneeva (Russian Federation) said her country abstained due to their concerns regarding the UNMISS mandate on the protection of civilians, which provides for the broad work of peacekeepers without including the necessary coordination with the Government of South Sudan.  Such an approach to resolving the problem of intercommunal violence is intrusive and risks undermining the peace process.  Further, resolving intercommunal conflicts can only be carried out in close coordination with local authorities and through a comprehensive approach that removes root causes, builds on South Sudan’s potential and strengthens its unified armed forces.  She also expressed her regret over the United States’ refusal as a penholder to have a constructive dialogue on finetuning other language such as on climate.  Such an approach could undermine the trust of the host State to United Nations activities, she cautioned, noting:  “This shows once again there is a need a fairer distribution of these penholding responsibilities among Security Council members.”

Dai Bing (China) said the resolution adopted today contains elements aimed at exerting lopsided pressure on South Sudan and fails to consider the situation on the ground.  Thus, his country was forced to abstain.  Elections, finance and domestic resources management all remain internal affairs; it is not up to the international community to engage in such matters.  The draft resolution, in making demands and imposing conditions in those areas without the consent of the Government, exceeds the Council’s normal prerogatives.  Regarding the protection of civilians, he stressed that the Council must always remember that the primary responsibility for that task lies with the Government concerned.  However, the resolution allows UNMISS to take “all necessary measures” in that arena and does not require it to obtain the prior consent of the Government to use force, he said, describing that as an attempt to create a “power centre above the Government of South Sudan”.  China, as a main troop-contributor, has strong reservations on those matters.  He also expressed his rejection of the penholder’s efforts to force the draft through to a vote, even when significant differences between Council members remained unresolved.

João Genésio de Almeida Filho (Brazil) said the situation in South Sudan is of great concern, as the population faces a catastrophic humanitarian crisis and ongoing intercommunal violence has created enormous suffering.  “The Security Council must acknowledge that peacekeeping operations are ill-suited for dealing with these issues,” he stressed, noting that food insecurity, climate change impacts and related humanitarian challenges are his delegation’s main concerns.  Calling on Member States and the broader international community to scale up their humanitarian support, he also noted the importance of regional cooperation in South Sudan and urged greater cooperation between the United Nations, African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).  He also welcomed the deepening engagement between South Sudan and the Peacebuilding Commission.

Akuei Bona Malwal (South Sudan), expressing his gratitude for the Mission’s renewal, Council members’ efforts to produce a balanced text and the work of troop-contributing countries, emphasized the importance of adhering to the principle of consent in negotiations.  Its work must be seen as collaborative.  UNMISS has helped the country and its people and he urged the Mission to work in close collaboration with the Government and local communities to gain their trust.  The protection of civilians is very important and the humanitarian needs of the people must be met.  Efforts must be made towards establishing a sustainable peace, ensuring economic development and helping the country build its resilience to climate change.

Yet the resolution has placed conditions on assistance, he pointed out, noting his Government’s efforts to include women.  The country is facing many issues, but that does not mean it is giving up its sovereign rights.  That point needs to be taken into account when considering future resolutions, he stressed, adding that if the penholder had considered proposals from other delegations, the text would have been more balanced and would have reflected the realities on the ground.  For upcoming resolutions, the penholder should have a collaborative spirit, he said.

The meeting began at 10:02 a.m. and ended at 10:34 a.m.

For information media. Not an official record.