Report of the Secretary-General on South Sudan (covering the period from 20 August to 9 November 2015) .

Monday, November 23, 2015
S. Sudan
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence
Human Rights
Security Council Agenda Geographical Topic: 
South Sudan
Document PDF: 

Report of the Secretary-General on South Sudan (covering the period from 20 August to 9 November 2015) .

Code: S/2015/902

Period of Time and Topic: This report by the Secretary-General is on the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), covering the time period from 20 August to 9 November 2015.

Women, Peace and Security

Pursuant to S/RES 2241 (2015), this report by the Secretary-General gives account on major developments in South Sudan, including updates on the current political, security and humanitarian situation. It specifically refers to the WPS agenda in one instance, confirming that UNMISS is monitoring women’s representation in official-decision making institutions and their participation in the IGAD-led peace process and further uses S/RES/1325 (2000) as an advocacy tool in training women on prevention, participation and protection concerns.[1]

Considering the protection of civilians mandate of UNMISS, the report accounts for 413 meetings with local authorities and community leaders, including women, throughout the country as well as 23 conflict management, mitigation and resolution workshops in and outside of PoC sites, which, inter alia, specifically addressed women leaders. Government-led dialogue activities to address the root causes of conflict also included women among other stakeholders such as community leaders and non-governmental organizations. [2]

Given the extensive reporting on the PoC mandate, most references to women focus on the protection pillar of the WPS agenda, calling for specific protection measures for women (and children) and providing sex-disaggregated data in several instances to outline the adverse impact of the severe humanitarian situation as well as human rights abuses, including incidences of sexual violence in and outside of PoC sites, on women and girls.[3] Additionally, the report does not only reiterate the commitment of UNMISS to the zero-tolerance policy on sexual-exploitation and abuse for all its staff but also considers the establishment of a dedicated task force to, inter alia, disseminate revised camp rules and regulations and conduct risk assessment exercises in line with the zero-tolerance policy.[4] The report further considers the Communiqué on preventing conflict-related sexual violence, which was signed by Riek Machar, and coordination efforts by the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict and UNMISS to assist with the implementation of a one-year plan promoting accountability for sexual violence.[5] Sex-disaggregated data is further provided on the numbers of detainees held in UNMISS holding facilities and on the numbers of women, men, girls and boys who participated in risk education on landmines and explosive remnants.[6]

While reporting on women’s participation in the peace process would ideally be stronger, one can assume that gender-sensitive reporting is being taken equally seriously as in previous reports and that a gender lens is being applied throughout the implementation of the various mandate components.

References in Need of Improvement and Missed Opportunities

Political process

Considering the implementation efforts of the newly reached peace agreement from 17 August 2015, including the permanent ceasefire, the report would have been much stronger if it had not only mentioned that UNMISS was closely monitoring women’s participation in ongoing negotiations but had specified . Given the dire security situation, the report would have also benefited from mentioning whether women the extent to which women leaders and representatives of women’s civil society organizations were involved in these processes to ensure a gender-balanced perspective on the issues at stake and to ensure that women’s concerns were adequately addressed were part of the workshop on the permanent ceasefire and transitional security arrangements, which was mandated by the August agreement, to ensure women’s security concerns were adequately addressed.[7]

In view of the importance of local-level peace and reconciliation processes, the report should ideally have provided gender-sensitive accounts on whether women are particularly affected by inter-communal disputes, including raids of cattle camps.[8]

The mention of UNMISS’s three-tiered PoC approach and their endorsement of a “protection through dialogue and engagement”[9] strategy through continued interaction with community leadership, women, youth and other authorities particularly demonstrates UNMISS’s awareness to assess and discuss security concerns on a local level and directly with the affected population. However, considering reports on incidences of violence against women, including domestic violence and rape, within PoC sites, the report would have benefited from outlining whether there are specific protection mechanisms in place under tier two of the PoC strategy on the provision of physical protection to ensure the safety of women.[10]Protection of Civilians (PoC)

 Additionally, the report should have followed up with reporting on incidences of violence and extortion against women at military checkpoints at the entrance to PoC sites, as detailed in S/2015/655, considering whether the revision of camp rules and regulations in line with the zero-tolerance policy were aimed at tackling this issue and whether there are specific protection mechanisms in place for women who leave the sites for livelihood activities.

Humanitarian support

Considering the deteriorating humanitarian situation and challenges in regards to humanitarian access, the report would have highly benefited from commenting on whether UNMISS or any partner organization operating in South Sudan, had conducted gender-sensitive needs assessments to identify whether and how women, particularly internally displaced women, are affected differently in order to effectively tailor humanitarian assistance to their needs.[11] The report further fails to mention whether humanitarian assistance includes measures to specifically cater to women’s needs such as secure access to sanitation facilities as well as hygiene and health assistance, including reproductive health, family planning and maternal health services. Additionally, information on whether local civil society organizations, particularly women’s civil society, were consulted in the design and implementation of delivery mechanisms for humanitarian assistance would have been desirable.

Human rights

Recognizing the increase in women’s human rights violations, particularly sexual violence, including rape, gang rape and abductions, and further human rights abuses against civilians, the report should have detailed whether protection measures are in place within PoC sites, particularly for women and girls leaving the site for livelihood activities, and whether these measures are planned to be extended. Calling for accountability for conflict-related sexual violence through the introduction of a one-year implementation plan, the report could have additionally mentioned whether human rights monitoring and investigation mechanisms are available, including whether women were part of the design and implementation processes.[12] Ideally, the report would have further detailed whether there are specific reporting mechanisms for SGBV available, how they are advertised and how women can access them. The success of reporting and investigation instruments for SGBV critically depends on the provision of easily accessible mechanisms, including physical safe zones staffed with female personnel where the survivors’ integrity is respected, including through assuring that no action will be taken without their consent.

Ideal Asks for WPS Transformation

Pursuant to resolution 2241 (2015) on the mandate of UNMISS, particularly OP 4(a)(i), (v), (vi); (b)(i),(ii), (iii) on the protection of civilians mandate, which calls for specific protection provisions for women, including the deployment of Women Protection Advisors, and the implementation of reporting, monitoring and investigation mechanisms for sexual violence, as well as OP 12 on mainstreaming gender throughout the mandate, future reports by the Secretary-General must reflect the Security Council’s commitment to the WPS agenda and provide updates on the implementation of gender-sensitive programming regarding both participation and protection concerns. Applying a gender lens throughout the report will ensure that all genders are adequately represented and their particular needs in regards to the severe security, political and humanitarian situation are being met.


[1] S/2015/902: para. 25

[2] S/2015/902: para. 25-27

[3] S/2015/902: para. 13, 22, 29, 37, 45,

[4] S/2015/902: para. 59

[5] S/2015/902: para. 46

[6] S/2015/902: para. 31, 33

[7] S/2015/902: para. 4

[8] S/2015/902: para. 18

[9] S/2015/902: para. 25

[10] S/2015/902: para. 29

[11] S/2015/902: para. 20, 32

[12] S/2015/902: para. 46