The Security Council renewed Wednesday, March 15 for an additional year the United Nations mission in South Sudan (Minuss), with thirteen votes in favor and two abstentions (Russia and China). This peacekeeping operation has been in place since 2011 and the independence of South Sudan.
South Sudan was born six years after the peace agreement signed in 2005 between Khartoum and the southern rebellion which had ended 22 years of war (and more than 2 million deaths) and which provided for a status of autonomy for South Sudan. Following a massive vote in favor of secession from Sudan during the referendum, the country, baptized South Sudan, gained independence on July 9, 2011.
threat to peace
The UN Security Council then instituted the Minuss with resolution 1996, considering that the situation in South Sudan, the youngest state on the planet, continues to constitute a “threat to international peace and security in the region”. .
The Minuss, one of the most expensive UN missions in the world with an annual budget of 1.2 billion dollars (1.1 billion euros), “will maintain its force at a ceiling level of 17,000 soldiers and 2 101 police officers”, assures the UN. Its missions remain identical to previous years: “protection of civilians, creation of conditions allowing the delivery of humanitarian aid, support for the implementation of the peace process and monitoring, investigation and reporting on violations of international humanitarian law and human rights humans”.
In July 2013, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (MPLA), which has governed the country since its independence, was rocked by a fierce struggle for power between two ethnic groups. It opposes the president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, of the Dinka, and his vice-president, Riek Machar, of the Nuer. The political struggle turned into a civil war in December 2013 when the army tore itself apart between rival factions of opposing ethnic groups. The fighting spread to several regions of the country.
Following this crisis, the UN Security Council raised the ceiling for the military personnel of this force from 7,000 to 12,500 men as well as the police personnel from 900 to 1,323. In 2014, it redirected the mandate of the mission, giving priority to the protection of civilians, the creation of conditions for the delivery of aid and the monitoring of fundamental rights.
However, the violence is not diminishing. Conflicts between Dinka and Nuer continue, amid power struggles with shifting allegiances and intra-ethnic fighting. The numerous ceasefire agreements between the government and the rebel army broke down as soon as they were signed. The South Sudanese civil war has left hundreds of thousands dead and more than two million displaced, making it “the largest refugee crisis in Africa”, according to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).
A peace agreement is signed in Addis Ababa on September 12, 2018. President Salva Kiir and his rival Riek Machar form a transitional government and join forces into a single army.
However, the implementation of this peace agreement is way behind schedule. Elections were indeed scheduled for December 2022, but they have been postponed for two years. The head of Minuss, Nicholas Haysom, urged the South Sudanese interim government ten days ago to implement the peace agreement to hold “credible” elections in 2024.
In the absence of political stability, the humanitarian and security situation is only deteriorating. Armed violence continues to bloody this oil-rich country where the majority of people live below the poverty line. In 2023, more than 9 million South Sudanese will need assistance out of the 12 million in the country. Peace is yet to be built.
The United Nations is currently engaged in 13 peacekeeping missions around the world, including 7 in Africa.