22 March, 2019
No lasting peace without justice, UN rights council tells South Sudan
This article was first published by DefendDefenders
By adopting a strong resolution on the human rights situation in South Sudan, the UN Human Rights Council (“Council”) sends a message to the South Sudanese government and all parties to the conflict that there will be no lasting peace without justice. The resolution adopted today condemns the crimes committed in the country in the strongest possible terms and extends the mandate of the UN Commission on Human Rights (“Commission”) in South Sudan for one year.
“As all indicators point to the fact that peace in South Sudan is precarious, the UN did the right thing today,” said Hassan Shire, Executive Director, DefendDefenders. “Continued scrutiny and pressure are essential to push all parties to implement the peace agreement, hold those responsible for crimes accountable, and emphasize respect for human rights of all South Sudanese citizens.”
One of the strongest resolutions adopted by the Council in recent sessions, HRC resolution 40/L.16 condemns widespread sexual and gender-based violence, including rape and gang rape used as a weapon of war, the use of child soldiers, arbitrary arrests, torture, attacks on humanitarian workers, schools and hospitals, and violence against civil society, human rights defenders and journalists. The resolution also demands an end to impunity, including through the establishment of the Hybrid Court that will try perpetrators of grave violations of international law, including military commanders.
The Commission will, among other things, pursue its investigations into violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and related crimes, including sexual and ethnic violence, collect and preserve evidence, identify perpetrators, advise on transitional justice, and continue reporting to the Council.
“We welcome the ongoing high level of attention to South Sudan, which despite the signing of the Revitalised Peace Agreement remains one of the gravest human rights situations on the African continent,” said Estella Kabachwezi, Senior Advocacy and Research Officer at DefendDefenders. “The resolution’s focus on fighting sexual violence is important as it sends a message to all perpetrators that they will be held accountable.”
The UN Human Rights Council, established in 2006, is the UN’s main human rights body. Its 47 members sit on the Council for three-year terms. In 2016, the Council established a Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan to investigate, monitor and report on violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed in the country. The Commission’s mandate was renewed in 2017, 2018, and through the resolution adopted today.
Ahead of the Council’s 40th session (25 February-22 March 2019), DefendDefenders coordinated the drafting of a letter calling on states to support the extension of the mandate of the Commission.