UN Rights Body Should Stay Course in South Sudan

Human Rights Watch

As the Council considers the human rights situation in South Sudan, the needs on the ground make clear that the work of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan remains critical and that the Council should renew its mandate in full.

Any shift in the agenda item would be premature. Last year’s resolution, adopted by consensus, expressly provided that “demonstrable progress in key human rights issues of concern is critical to any future change to the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan”. Unfortunately, no such progress has taken place.

By contrast, violence in parts of the country has reached and even surpassed 2013 levels according to the most recent report by the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan. Moreover, the accountability mechanisms provided for under Chapter V of the 2015 peace agreement remain merely aspirational. Last week UNMISS released a devastating report documenting new displacement, killings, abductions and sexual violence by local community-based militias, backed by political and military leaders.

The government announced in January that it approved the establishment of the Chapter V accountability mechanisms, more than 5 years after they had already been agreed to. This is an encouraging development, but the true test of the government’s commitment to accountability is whether this leads to concrete steps to establish the hybrid court, truth and reconciliation mechanism, and compensation authority.

At this time, we urge the Council to stay the course, renew the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, request a concrete implementation plan with benchmarks, and resist any change in the mandate until such benchmarks are met. The interests of victims and accountability demand nothing less.

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