Human Rights Council: Extend the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan

Ahead of the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council (22 Feb­­ruary-23 March 2021), a group of 40 civil society organisations urge states to sup­port the extension of the mandate of the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan (CHRSS). 

Two and a half years after the signa­ture of the Revitalised Peace Agree­ment, South Sudan faces major governance, security, huma­­ni­tarian, and human rights issues. Fighting continues in parts of the country, and inter-communal tensions and conflict threaten the coun­try’s stability and people’s safety, human rights, and livelihoods. Many human rights concerns remain unaddressed, and human rights defenders (HRDs), jour­na­lists, and other independent actors face sustained pressure. Impunity remains widespread for human rights violations and abuses. 

In 2020, the Human Rights Council reaffirmed the importance of the mandate of the CHRSS and acknow­led­ged that “demon­s­trable progress in key human rights issues of concern is critical to any future change to the mandate of the [CHRSS].” 

Despite the South Sudanese Government’s approval of a plan by the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to start setting up transitional justice institutions, including the Hybrid Court for South Sudan, the plan must be implemented and these mechanisms operationalised to achieve justice and hold perpetrators of the most serious crimes to account. 

“South Sudan continues to require multilateral attention” and the government “needs to further build confidence with African and international partners,” the signatory organisations write. “Any way forward should rely on human rights benchmarks and a thorough assess­ment of the situation and of risk factors of further violations.” 


Read the full letter.


Human Rights Defender of the month: Esther Tawiah

In Ghana, Esther Tawiah is one of the loudest voices for women empowerment and gender. It is also why she is one of the most loathed. Born and raised in New-Tafo in the country’s eastern region, Esther grew up surrounded by a culture that frowned at the idea of women participating in public affairs, and witnessed firsthand, the backlash those who dared to challenge that cultural norm faced.

“I grew up in a society where ageism and sexism were so entrenched. As a young person, you weren’t supposed to give your opinion on public issues, especially if you were a woman. Women who dared to speak up were caricatured and branded as frustrated, unmarriageable prostitutes, all designed to shut them up,” she says.