On 15 March, the UN Security Council extended the mandate of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) for another year by resolution. In the Security Council, Switzerland supported the resolution to ensure that the mission continues to be equipped for the challenges ahead in the country. The mandate is also in line with its priorities for Council membership - namely protecting civilians, promoting sustainable peace and addressing climate security. After decades of conflict, South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011. When the new government collapsed in 2013, the young state fell into a spiral of civil war, which ended at the national level in 2018 with a peace agreement. Hundreds of thousands of people fell victim to the war and millions were displaced, over half of them women and children.
But the peace is fragile. The implementation of the peace agreement is making slow progress. The formation of a transitional government in February 2020 only slightly accelerated this process. At the sub-national level, violence unfortunately remains the order of the day. "In order to reduce violence and strengthen peaceful coexistence, peace dialogues among the population are essential. In recent years, Switzerland has worked with the South Sudan Council of Churches to support such dialogues. UNMISS also promotes such dialogues," said Swiss UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl at the UN Security Council. Next year, elections and the end of the transition period are coming up, which will bring further challenges.
Driven by conflict and severe food insecurity, the country is facing a massive humanitarian crisis. "This crisis is exacerbated by the impact of climate change, which is exacerbating the effects of the conflict. We encourage the South Sudanese government to address these challenges with the support of UNMISS," Baeriswyl underlined in New York. This is why, during the negotiations on the mandate, Switzerland also advocated for the UN Secretary-General to include a reference to the risks associated with the effects of climate change in his report on UNMISS to the Security Council. The mandate also now mentions the UN goal of increasing the use of renewable energies in peace missions in order to increase their responsible use of natural resources. As co-chair of the Council's informal group of experts on climate and security, Switzerland also advocates for this issue in a broader framework.
The tasks of UNMISS include the protection of civilians, logistical support for humanitarian aid, support for the implementation of the peace agreement, the promotion of international humanitarian law and the strengthening of human rights. 2023 will be an important year to prepare for the end of the transition phase.