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South Sudan: Public Statement by Chair of Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict

Source: UN Security Council
Country: South Sudan

SC/13633

At its seventy-sixth meeting, on 18 December 2018, the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, in connection with the examination of the second report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in South Sudan (document S/2018/865) agreed to convey the following messages through a public statement by the Chair of the Working Group.

To all parties to the armed conflict in South Sudan, in particular the SSPDF (formerly known as SPLA), the pro-Taban Deng SPLA in Opposition, the pro-Machar SPLA in Opposition and other armed groups, such as the White Army:

  • Strongly condemning all violations and abuses that continue to be committed against children in South Sudan by all parties to the armed conflict, and expressing grave concern at the scale and brutal nature of violations and abuses against children, reminding them of their obligations under applicable international law, and urging them to take without delay all measures to immediately end all such violations and abuses and to prevent their reoccurrence, including those involving the recruitment and use of children, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, abductions, attacks against schools and hospitals and denial of humanitarian access, as well as the military use of schools in violation of applicable international law;

  • Welcoming the opportunity the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS), signed in Addis Ababa on 12 September 2018, represents for making the protection of children a priority as the country moves forward;
    Urging the Government of South Sudan to engage with the United Nations in developing and adopting a comprehensive action plan addressing all six grave violations against children, so that its implementation can commence without delay to end all violations and abuses against children and to ensure the issuance and enforcement of military command orders and punitive directives on all violations and abuses against children;

  • Urging the Government of South Sudan to implement all provisions of the current action plan of 2012 to end and prevent recruitment and use of children, as well as the recommitment agreement of 2014;

  • Calling upon the Government to prioritize release and reintegration of children associated with armed forces and armed groups as part of the implementation of the R-ARCSS and to ensure that the national disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programme and the security sector reform (SSR) take fully into account at all stages the specific needs of girls and boys, including those with disabilities, and the protection of their rights, including through the development of a gender- and age-sensitive DDR process, and to allocate sufficient resources to this end;

  • Welcoming the accession of the Government of South Sudan to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict on 27 September 2018 and calling upon the Government to take immediate action to ensure its provisions are adhered to;

  • Welcoming the commitments to improve the situation of children affected by armed conflict expressed by the Government during the visit of the Working Group to South Sudan in November 2018, including on working with the United Nations to expand the current Action Plan into a comprehensive Action Plan that would address all six grave violations against children in order to end and prevent all violations and abuses against children, during the visit of the Working Group to South Sudan in November 2018;

  • Expressing deep concern over the lack of accountability for violations and abuses committed against children by all parties to the armed conflict, and urging the Government of South Sudan to put an end to impunity by ensuring that all perpetrators of violations and abuses are swiftly brought to justice and held accountable, including by signing without further delay the Memorandum of Understanding with the African Union to establish the Hybrid Court for South Sudan, and through rigorous, timely, independent and impartial investigation and prosecution;

  • Expressing deep concern at the systematic recruitment and use during the reporting period and continuing cases of recruitment and use of children in violation of applicable international law, strongly urging all parties to the armed conflict to immediately and without preconditions release all children within their ranks, and calling upon parties to the armed conflict that have not done so to grant the United Nations unhindered access for verification and release of children associated with all parties;

  • Stressing the need for intercommunal tensions and violence in South Sudan to be addressed through inclusive dialogue, and urging parties to intercommunal conflict to take immediate and specific measures to protect children and prevent all violations and abuses including those based on tribal or other affiliations;

  • Expressing grave concern about the systematic nature and high number of rapes and other forms of sexual violence perpetrated against children, including displaced children, strongly urging all parties to the armed conflict to take immediate and specific measures to put an end to and prevent the perpetration of rape and other forms of sexual violence against children by members of their respective groups, and stressing the importance of accountability for those who commit sexual and gender-based violence against children;

  • Expressing deep concern at the high number of children killed and maimed, including as a direct or indirect result of hostilities between parties to armed conflict and of incidents of indiscriminate attacks against civilian populations, and urging all parties to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular the principles of distinction and proportionality and the obligation to take all feasible precautions to avoid and in any event minimize harm to civilians and damage to civilian objects;

  • Calling upon all parties to the armed conflict to comply with applicable international law and to respect the civilian character of schools and hospitals, including their personnel, and to end and prevent attacks or threats of attacks against those institutions and their personnel, as well as the military use of schools and hospitals in violation of applicable international law;

  • Condemning the attacks against humanitarian personnel and facilities, emphasizing that impediment of the delivery of humanitarian assistance can constitute a breach of international humanitarian law, and calling upon all parties to the armed conflict, including SSPDF, to ensure full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access for the United Nations and its humanitarian partners to deliver timely humanitarian assistance to the affected population, including children;

  • Urging all parties to the armed conflict to immediately release abducted children and allow for reunification with their families;

  • Calling upon the Government of South Sudan to address conflict-related sexual violence, including through the completion of specific Action Plans for SSPDF and South Sudan National Police Service (SSNPS) developed with the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict and the Team of Experts on Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict;

  • Urging SPLA in Opposition to implement the Action Plan to end and prevent recruitment and use of children and killing and maiming of children, signed between the SPLA in Opposition and the United Nations in December 2015, and to renew engagement with the country task force on monitoring and report on its implementation;

  • Encouraging the Government to focus on comprehensive and sustainable reintegration and rehabilitation opportunities for children affected by armed conflict that are gender- and age-sensitive, including equal access to health care, psychosocial support and education programmes, as well as raising awareness and working with communities to avoid stigmatization of these children, facilitate their return and minimize the risk of re-recruitment, while taking into account the specific needs of girls and boys, in order to contribute to the well-being of children and to sustainable peace and security;

  • Urging all parties engaged in the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan to ensure that the protection, rights, well-being and empowerment of children affected by armed conflict are fully incorporated in all efforts on peacebuilding and sustaining peace, including efforts related to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes and security sector reform, and encourage and facilitate consideration of the views of children in these processes;

  • Welcoming the endorsement of the Safe Schools Declaration and the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict by the Government of South Sudan and calling for their swift implementation, and encouraging the Government to ensure that attacks on schools in contravention of international humanitarian law are investigated and that those responsible are held accountable;

  • Urging all parties to the conflict to implement the previous conclusions of the Working Group on children and armed conflict in South Sudan (S/AC.51/2012/2 and S/AC.51/2015/1);
    Recalling that the Security Council, by its resolutions 2206 (2015) and 2428 (2018), decided to apply financial and travel measures to individuals and entities as designated for such measures by the Committee established pursuant to paragraph 16 of resolution 2206 (2015) for actions that may include:

  • Planning, directing, or committing acts that violate applicable international human rights law or international humanitarian law, or acts that constitute human rights abuses, in South Sudan;
    Use or recruitment of children by armed groups or armed forces in the context of the armed conflict in South Sudan;

  • Planning, directing, or committing acts involving sexual and gender-based violence in South Sudan;

  • Targeting of civilians, including women and children, through the planning, directing, or commission of acts of violence (including killing, maiming, or torture), abduction, enforced disappearance, forced displacement or attacks on schools, hospitals, religious sites or locations where civilians are seeking refuge, or through conduct that would constitute a serious violation or abuse of international human rights law or international humanitarian law;

  • Obstruction of the activities of international peacekeeping, diplomatic or humanitarian missions in South Sudan, including the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Monitoring Mechanism, or of the delivery or distribution of, or access to, humanitarian assistance;

  • Expressing its readiness to communicate to the Security Council pertinent information with a view to assisting the Council in the imposition of targeted measures on perpetrators.

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To community and religious leaders:

  • Emphasizing the important role of community and religious leaders in strengthening the protection of children affected by armed conflict;

  • Urging them to publicly condemn and continue to advocate ending and preventing violations and abuses against children, in particular those involving the recruitment and use of children, rape and other forms of sexual violence against children, killing and maiming, abductions, attacks and threats of attacks against schools and hospitals, and denial of humanitarian access, and to engage with the Government, the United Nations and other relevant stakeholders to support reintegration and rehabilitation of children affected by armed conflict in their communities, including by raising awareness to avoid stigmatization of these children.

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