UN warns of rise in political violence in South Sudan

Malakal, South Sudan- A UN Peacekeeper stands guard at an outpost as civilians enter the Protection of Civilians (POC) site outside the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) compound in Malakal, South Sudan on Wednesday, July 13, 2016. The Malakal POC site houses over 32,000 displaced people mainly from the Shilluk and Nuer tribes. In February of this year, members of the Dinka tribe, who resided in the camp at the time, carried out a coordinated attack within the site leading to the destruction of hundreds of shelters and many deaths. Since then, most members of the Dinka tribe have fled to Malakal town where they occupy the homes of those still displaced. The UN has assured the displaced people that increased security measures around the camp will protect them from any further attack. Most of the displace are not convinced. (Jane Hahn for Washington Post)
Malakal, South Sudan- A UN Peacekeeper stands guard at an outpost as civilians enter the Protection of Civilians (POC) site outside the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) compound in Malakal, South Sudan on Wednesday, July 13, 2016. /Getty Images

The UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan has raised concerns over the lack of progress in implementing key provisions of a 2018 peace deal contributes to the persistent insecurity and impunity which allows violations to occur.

“There is consensus amongst key stakeholders that while some progress has been made in implementing the Revitalised Agreement, critical elements involving security sector reform, constitutional and electoral reform, and transitional justice have yet to be addressed. All of these outstanding issues impact the human rights situation in the country,” said Yasmin Sooka, Chair of the Commission.

Following independence in 2011, brutal civil conflict erupted two years later between Government forces commanded by President Salva Kiir, and militia loyal to his political rival, Riek Machar.

Fighting abated after the two men signed the 2018 agreement, but according to the UN Special Representative in the country briefing the Security Council in December, momentum is in danger of stalling.

South Sudan is set to hold elections next year, but the country is at a “tipping point”, UN commissioners further warned.

“The pursuit of elections runs the serious risk of fueling violence and polarisation if the requisite institutions, constitutional and electoral laws as well as logistic arrangements are not first in place. It is also important to look beyond the electoral moment and ask what political system people would be voting for, particularly given the delays to develop a constitution on which elections would be based.”