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South Sudan: as concerns multiply, the UN keeps a focus on human rights

DefendDefenders welcomes the UN Human Rights Council’s decision to adopt a resolution that extends the mandate of its Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan (CHRSS), as a step in the right direction. Civil society efforts contributed to renewed commitments by states to support the South Sudanese people through scrutinising the human rights situation and holding perpetrators of abuses accountable. As concerns multiply over vio­len­ce in the country, including possible resumption of armed conflict at the national level, Defend­Defen­ders stresses that the CHRSS remains a vital mechanism.

“Extending the mandate of the CHRSS is a wise decision,” said Hassan Shire, Exe­cu­tive Direc­tor, Defend­Defen­ders. “Discontinuing human rights investigations would have sent a wrong message to national actors, inc­lu­ding those who perpetrate or incite violence, and increased the risk of impunity.” 

The resolution adopted today, L.15, mentions a range of human rights concerns in South Sudan. It extends the mandate of the CHRSS for one year, enabling it to continue its investigations, including identification of perpe­tra­tors and other elements of its mandate. Contrary to the practice that prevailed from 2016 to 2020, but similar to 2021, it was adopted not by consensus but following a vote. 19 states voted in favour of the resolution and 11 voted against (17 abstained, including 8 African states).

During the Council’s 49th regular session, it held two debates on South Sudan and considered reports by the CHRSS and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. It also heard from NGOs, which ahead of the session had urged states to extend the mandate of the CHRSS in light of the situation and risk factors of further atrocities. In March, an increase in violence was reported in Upper Nile State and other parts of South Sudan, threatening the 2018 peace agreement (R-ARCSS). On 22 March 2022, the main opposition force, SPLM/A-IO, suspended its participation in the security mechanisms tasked with overseeing imple­men­tation of the R-ARCSS.

“At this critical juncture, the international community and the African Union should enhance their attention to South Sudan and do their utmost to prevent backsliding into large-scale armed conflict,” said Estella Kabach­wezi, Advo­cacy, Research and Communications Manager, Defend­Defen­ders. “Respecting human rights is key to building long-term peace.” 

In March 2021, the Council extended the mandate of the CHRSS, which was created in 2016, for the fifth time. The Council is holding its 49th session from 28 February to 1 April 2021. A second resolution, drafted by the South Sudanese delegation in Geneva and focusing on “technical assistance” to the country’s government, is expected to be adopted on 1 April 2022.



For more information, please contact: 

Estella Kabachwezi

Advocacy, Research and Communications Manager, DefendDefenders

[email protected] or +256 782 360 460 (English)

Nicolas Agostini

Representative to the United Nations for DefendDefenders

[email protected] or +41 79 813 49 91 (English and French)