Statement by Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, at the Security Council briefing concerning the situation in South Sudan —
I thank the Special Representative, David Shearer, for his update on the situation in South Sudan.
The Security Council has just unanimously extended the sanctions regime for another year. We continue to view the current context negatively because of the grave violations of human rights, the ongoing humanitarian crisis and the ethnic-based hate speech that is spreading. Italy has a substantial presence of NGOs in the country, and also through them we follow with apprehension the plight of the population.
Despite this tragic situation that seems to have no end in sight, I would like to dwell on three processes underway that have shown some potential, and attempt to find constructive elements therein.
First, UNMISS and the Regional Protection Force. The more assertive posture of UNMISS enables the Mission to rapidly react on the ground. It does not, however, deter the conflicting parties from intimidating its patrols and blocking humanitarian access in violation of the SOFA. Data collected in April on such humanitarian access incidents show an intolerable situation.
It is crucial that the RPF be deployed in Juba without further delay to allow UNMISS to work more effectively in other parts of the country. The arrival of the first contingents in recent days is a positive step in this direction. We ask Juba to cooperate responsibly with the UN so that it may fully deploy the RPF in the shortest term.
Second, the ceasefire and the National Dialogue. Two days ago the National Dialogue was inaugurated in Juba and, as follow-up to the IGAD statement of 25 March, President Kiir announced a unilateral ceasefire. In principle, the two events represent significant progress, but the circumstances lead us to believe that the premises are not promising.
For the National Dialogue to succeed, it must be genuinely inclusive, that is fully representative of all of the opposition groups and the civil society, at community and national levels. Today the process is still devoid of these conditions. Until the opposition groups are not fully involved in the process, they will not abandon warfare, as they jointly announced a few days ago.
Most of all, the process needs a ceasefire in order to flourish. That is the main precondition for the National Dialogue. The Council constantly urged both sides to immediately and effectively suspend hostilities. However, as the ceasefire was declared, clashes continued. The Government has the merit of announcing the ceasefire unilaterally, but its effort would be appreciated only if words were now followed by action in retaining SPLA on the ground.
Third, international and regional mediation. We support the joint mediation of President Konaré, President Mogae, Special Envoy Haysom, and Special Representative Shearer, and commend their efforts. We hope that an Action Plan could be finalized soon to coordinate the steps and timeline of their mediation.
We continue to believe that the regional stakeholders, in particular IGAD, are those most capable of breaking South Sudan’s self-destructive cycle. They can do more for peace in South Sudan. We thus welcome the initiatives launched in recent days by Uganda and Kenya. Their actions move from the acknowledgment of the destabilizing impact of the South Sudanese crisis in the sub-region, starting with the continuous flow of refugees.
We look forward to the next Kampala Conference of 22 June on this issue and trust that, at the IGAD Summit in June, Heads of State and Government will make substantive progress in finding common ground and unity in their approach to this crisis.
In the past months we have constantly witnessed that the time to contain this tragedy is running out. It is up to the Government and opposition groups of South Sudan first to help make things improving before time will be over. For this reason, we recall them that the solution to the crisis can only be political. And political solutions – all of them – entails the will to compromise.
I thank you, Mr. President.