Mr. President,


I thank Under-Secretary-General Lacroix for his remarks, and welcome the presence of the Permanent Representative of South Sudan to this meeting.


Since our last meeting in December, there has been very limited progress towards credible and peaceful elections. While South Sudanese aspire to elections as soon as possible, legitimate concerns remain as to the state of preparedness to organize them as scheduled. We recognize that the organization of elections is a South Sudanese process, and we encourage the government to persevere in its efforts to ensure a transparent and peaceful electoral process.


I would like to reiterate three priorities in this regard:


First, urgent progress is needed in implementing the key benchmarks, as agreed upon by the parties themselves. Greater clarity on the electoral procedures, as well as the establishment of a free and safe civic and political space are essential for credible and peaceful elections. Women's participation is central in this regard. The visit in December by members of the Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security, co-chaired by Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates, enabled us to identify priority measures: the representation of women of at least 35% in accordance with the provisions of the peace agreement, the empowerment of women candidates, including in rural areas, and the prevention of gender-based and conflict-related sexual violence.


Second, to establish a safe and secure environment. Full implementation of the transitional security arrangements is essential for safe elections. The continuing violence at sub-national level and the increase in child recruitment are worrying. This was raised recently at the joint meeting of the Groups of Friends on Children and Armed Conflict in New York and Juba. The Global Action Plan is a key instrument in this respect. It should be renewed urgently in April. In addition, we encourage UNMISS to continue prioritizing a more mobile and agile protection approach to enhance the protection of civilians, in particular children.


Third, to alleviate the serious humanitarian situation, exacerbated by the increased impact of the catastrophic conflict in Sudan on neighboring countries and the region as a whole. The influx of more than half a million people to date is likely to exacerbate existing economic, social and political tensions. This will have an impact on people's participation in elections. The conflict is also exacerbating already tense food insecurity, exacerbated by the effects of climate change. Humanitarian and protection needs are constantly increasing, and the situation, already tense due to the persistent violence in the country, is likely to deteriorate further. Rapid and unhindered humanitarian access must be allowed and facilitated.


Rapid and unhindered humanitarian access must be allowed and facilitated. Moreover, the attack on a humanitarian convoy in Jonglei a month ago reminds us that South Sudan remains one of the most dangerous countries for those delivering precisely this vital assistance. Humanitarian personnel are protected by international humanitarian law and is not a target.


Mr. President,


We encourage the parties to engage in constructive dialogue with a view to reaching a consensus on the way forward. We share concerns about the risks to the transition if these decisions are not taken as a matter of urgency. That's why we believe it's important for this Council to continue to give it the necessary attention and constructive support over the coming months.


I would like to reiterate Switzerland's full support for UNMISS and the Trilateral Taskforce comprising the UN, the African Union and IGAD, as well as our firm commitment to the Government and people of Southern Sudan in achieving democratic, legitimate governance and lasting peace.


I thank you.



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