Rights body calls for unilateral renewal of U.N mandate in S. Sudan

September 6, 2017 (JUBA) – The Centre for Peace and Justice (CPJ), on Wednesday urged South Sudan government to accept renewal of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) mandate.

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UNMISS troops from India patrol the perimeters of a compound in South Sudan’s capital, Juba (AP)

The call comes a day after South Sudan’s cabinet affairs minister said they would not accept any unilateral decision to renew the mandate of UNMISS without seeking its prior consent and approval.

But CPJ’s Coordinator, Tito Anthony said there are factors that contribute to the unilateral renewal of the UN mandate that the South Sudanese government needed to know and acknowledge.

“The fact that three thousand of civilians who feel unsafe without UNMISS protection is the most factor that can and will contribute to the unilateral renewal of UNMISS mandate”, Tito said in a statement.

He said South Sudan government should negotiate peace with the armed opposition [SPLM/A- IO], National Democratic Movement [NDM], National Salvation Front [NAS] and other non-armed opposition movements to achieve sustainable peace to allow all citizens resume normal lives as UNMISS focuses on development.

“I call on the government to reach a possible solution rather than pointing finger at United Nations,” stressed Tito.

Last week, South Sudan’s information minister, Michael Makuei Lueth was quoted saying the government would review the mandate of the UN in the country. The government spokesman, also, accused the UN of causing situations so that their mandates can be renewed.

“We are talking of revisiting the mandate because once the UN comes to your country, they will never write one day that this country is at peace we [the UN] are going away. They will continue all the time to write there is insecurity so that they continue to stay,” Lueth told reporters at a news conference in Juba last week.

“With the end of the mandate of the UN at the end of December, the government of South Sudan must be consulted before they talk of renewing anything. This idea of automatic renewal without the involvement of the government of South Sudan is not acceptable and will not happen,” he added.

The minister further said the mandate of the Regional Protection Force (RPF) needed to be reviewed because they were supposed to be deployed at a time when South Sudan rebel forces were in Juba.

“They [UN] do admit that Juba is at peace. If Juba is at peace then we need to revisit the mandate of the RPF and this is what we will do. We will have to revisit the mandate of the RPF… if they have come to assist the people and the government of South Sudan then we will have to revisit their mandate so that they render a better service to the people of South Sudan,” stressed the information minister.

The UN recently started the deployment of the 4000 peacekeepers tasked to protect civilians and aid workers in Juba. The initial force will be deployed into other areas.

The four-year conflict has fractured South Sudan along ethnic lines. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and more than two million displaced due to the ongoing conflict.