The UN Mission in South Sudan
On July 8, 2011, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1996 authorizing the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS). This mission follows the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), which was tasked with supporting the implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The new mission is operating in South Sudan and is authorized to consist of 7,000 military personnel, 900 police, and appropriate civilian support. This mission mandate was renewed in July 2012 for another year.
The Mission’s mandate includes:
- Protecting civilians under Chapter VII of the UN Charter;
- Consolidating peace in South Sudan and fostering of long-term state building and economic development;
- Advising the government on creating national policies including the constitution and national elections;
- Promoting an independent media;
- Promoting the participation of women in decision-making forums;
- Assisting the government in conflict prevention, mitigation, and resolution;
- Establishing and implementing a mission-wide early-warning system to prevent conflict;
- Monitoring, investigating, and verifying of human rights abuses; and
- Strengthening of the security and justice sectors.
In 2005, after 22 years of civil war, the Northern and Southern regions of Sudan signed the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), a settlement which included provisions on security, power-sharing, and equitable distribution of resources including oil. Shortly afterwards, the Security Council authorized the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) to support the implementation of the CPA; the mission established a number of benchmarks for the peaceful end of conflict, including a referendum on self-determination for South Sudan. In January 2011, 99% of people living in Southern Sudan voted to secede from the north. On July 9, 2011, South Sudan officially became an independent nation. Accordingly, the mission mandate was changed to recognize South Sudan’s independence.
The U.S. has long been invested in the north-south peace process. On July 9 2011, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice reiterated U.S. support for the new Republic of South Sudan, promising the U.S. would be a “true and lasting friend and partner… our support for the cause of peace for the Sudanese people has long been bipartisan and deep, and it will continue to be. We helped broker the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that led us here today, and we will continue to watch over it—and the future to come.” Currently, the U.S. is helping UNMISS promote security and stability in the region, providing the groundwork for long-term stability and meaningful development.
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In July 2012, the Security Council voted to extend the mandate to promote peace and security in South Sudan. UNMISS works to strengthen the capacity of the government of South Sudan to effectively and democratically provide for its citizens and establish good relations with its neighbors.
In January 2012, tension arose between Sudan and South Sudan, largely due to unresolved issues from the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). Issues of oil distribution, citizenship, and demarcation of borders spurred violence between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N) and the Government of Sudan’s armed forces.
Due to this situation, President Kiir cut off oil exportation to Sudan citing northern expropriation of $815 million worth of oil and interference with other shipments as the cause. This decision reduced Sudan’s gross domestic product by 70% and his own nation’s gross domestic product by 99%, inciting violence and straining humanitarian efforts. Both nations have engaged in hostilities toward the other; Khartoum is responsible for aerial bombings, while Juba began aggression on the border occupying the oil-rich region of Heglig.
In April, the Security Council said they would impose sanctions if the two nations did not broker a comprehensive agreement by August 2. The two governments developed an interim agreement, which resulted in the:
Resumption of oil production;
Demilitarization of borders;
Free movement of civilians between borders, including for purposes of trade.
While the agreement covers a number of the most contentious issues between the two nations, there remain a number of unresolved issues including the region of Abyei.
How This Affects American Interests
- Promotes stability in South Sudan. By supporting security measures in South Sudan, the U.S. promotes stability in the Horn of Africa and reduces safe havens for terrorists in the region. President Obama deployed five military advisors to support UNMISS in strategic planning to prevent further violence in the region. UNMISS stationed UN police in 10 state capitals and 23 counties and establishing 15 permanent company-operating bases in all states, but one. With UNMISS and U.S. support, South Sudan has already seen the number of civilian casualties decrease since independence. UNMISS also develops South Sudan’s security institutions and policies, preparing them to eventually run their own security operations. UNMISS offers training, having instructed nearly 3,500 police officers and 35 prison managers thus far. The mission developed a screening and registration process for police and correction officers to enhance transparency and accountability. Additionally, UNMISS supports the South Sudanese Government’s development of an Executive Secretariat to the National Security Council, which has begun the development of a National Security Policy. The Policy is expected to be ready for review in 2013.
- Supports disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration program (DDR). DDR works with ex-combatants to voluntarily surrender their weapons and receive rehabilitation, counseling, and skills-training. With UNMISS support, these efforts have resulted in the collection of 10,400 weapons and the demobilization of 12,525 ex-combatants. Specifically, UNMISS monitors DDR to ensure that all weapons are collected voluntarily. UNMISS also observes the progress of the Action Plan, in which the SPLA removes all child soldiers from their ranks.
- US and UN combatting the LRA. Both the US and UN contribute significantly to the fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). LRA attacks increased over the past year in Central African Republic (CAR) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); the most recent numbers from March 31 report that 445,000 people have been displaced due to the LRA. UNMISS, along with other African UN peacekeeping missions, coordinate with regional governments to protect civilians and promote disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR). UNMISS also conducts patrols, vigil of security threats to LRA-affected areas. In 2010, Congress committed, “to help mitigate and eliminate the threat posed by the LRA to civilians and regional stability.” In 2011, President Obama committed about 100 Special Operations forces in an effort to improve information collection and sharing. . Together UNMISS and the U.S. work to develop a strategy to address the LRA in the UN Regional Office for Central Africa.
- Addresses interethnic violence. After more than 120,000 people were displaced and nearly 900 people killed as a result of inter-ethnic violence in early 2012, the UN launched a massive humanitarian operation in Jonglei to provide aid to displaced villagers and prevent further violence. Additionally, UNMISS developed an early warning system to protect innocent civilians against attacks from opposing ethnic groups; a system supported by the U.S. Government. In one instance, the mission evacuated a number of villages before a group of destructive Lou Nuer youth reached them. Later, the mission aided SPLA troops to halt the movement of the Lou Nuer youth. In support of the UN mission, President Obama announced the deployment of five military advisors to support UNMISS in strategic planning to prevent further violence in the region. Active in facilitating the peace process between local groups, UNMISS established permanent bases in Jonglei state and engaged the community. Special Envoy Princeton Lyman commended the mission’s work; “UNMISS is working with South Sudan on the adoption and implementation of a comprehensive peace and stability plan in Jonglei, as well as in other states suffering from inter-communal and interethnic violence.
- Promotes Women’s Rights. UNMISS and the U.S. recognize that women must be safe in order for society to function. With UN Police support, the South Sudan National Police Service (SSNPS) in Upper Nile state launched a Special Protection Unit for women and children. UNMISS has plans to appoint Women Political Advisors (WPA) to various localities and has already begun programs to educate women on harmful traditional practices, such as child marriage. Additionally, women’s advocacy groups have begun to discuss the possibility of a legal route specifically for gender crimes. To increase women’s participation in government, UNMISS, with the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and Sudanese Network for Democratic Election, supports workshops to engage women on the constitution-making process and their rights under the Transitional Constitution. President Kiir has taken steps to include women in government, by appointing women to the National Constitution Review Commission and 9 women as ambassadors. UNMISS and UN Women have held community-level women’s peace forums and to train women to organize future peace dialogues.
- Addresses Human Rights Abuses. UNMISS encourages South Sudanese public servants to ensure human rights for all people. The mission facilitates training for police and media. These workshops educate officials on the standards and enforcement of human rights standards. UNMISS also has provided thousands of books on human rights for the National Legislative Assembly. UNMISS promotes human rights, including the rights of women and the rights of people with illnesses. The mission provides voluntary confidential counseling and testing services, as well as peer education.
- Continuing strain over Abyei. An agreement, signed in September by both Sudan and South Sudan, addressed a number of significant and contentious issues; however, it did not address the border area Abyei. The UN developed a mission separate from UNMISS to address this conflicted area, the UN Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNIFSA), but the stability of both countries remains dependent on Abyei.
- Humanitarian Crisis. Widespread humanitarian crisis persists, as South Sudan faces food shortages and displacement. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) predicts that this year 5 million people in South Sudan, more than half the population, will be in need of food assistance. There are an estimated 211,000 displaced from Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States alone. 175,000 people from Sudan have fled to South Sudan. Civilians on the border regions face particularly dire circumstances; many have fled their homes to escape violence and search for food and medical care; health has been a particular concern with the World Health Organization (WHO) trying to provide hygienic and sanitized care for all IDPs and refugees. Not only has the humanitarian crisis increased, but delivering aid to the neediest people has become increasingly difficult. Seasonal rain has affected about 260,000 people making aid much more difficult to deliver to flooding regions.
- Human Rights. The South Sudanese Government has failed to cooperate with the United Nations on a Human Rights investigation, expelling a UN official who published a report in August accusing South Sudanese officials of committing crimes of rape, murder, and torture, largely in the Jonglei state. Other human rights groups have made similar claims against the new nation. South Sudanese officials called the officials report “unethical.” Hilde Johnson, head of the UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), expressed dismay at the decision and called the act a "breach of the legal obligations of the government of the Republic of South Sudan under the Charter of the United Nations".
- Inter-communal Violence. For years, the ethnic groups, Lou Nuer, Murle, and Dinka, have destabilized the Jonglei state with their inter-communal conflicts. Fueled by tension over a general lack of opportunities, cattle raiding, and the appearance the government favors the Dinka, the conflict hinders real progress from being made in the state. Militia groups led by George Athor and David Yau Yau have provided arms to the ethnic conflict; since August, Yau Yau’s militia, is estimated to be responsible for the death of at least 100 government troops. The local government in the Jonglei state reported an increase of stability in the area, with general SPLA control. Despite these successes, the rebel groups remain intact and continue to threaten violence. Additionally, government troops attempting to address the rebel groups have been accused of committing human rights abuses. The dismantling of rebel groups will only be possible when militia men feel that they will receive more economic and social opportunities.
*Last Updated November 2012