Date: 19 September 2016
Topic: This report gives an overview of the security situation in South Sudan after the July 2016 violence.
Women, Peace and Security Introduction
Pursuant to resolution 2290 (2016), the Panel of Experts reports on the security situation in South Sudan and provides analysis on arms transfers and threats to UNMISS and other personnel. The report’s inclusion of six references to the women, peace and security agenda is almost entirely focused on the protection pillar of the agenda, namely sexual and gender-based violence.
The report mentions that refugees from South Sudan have reported rape among other human rights violations to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (S/2016/793 para. 4). The report also highlights the 11 July attack on an aid worker compound where soldiers, “raped and gang-raped at least five international aid workers and an unknown number of staff working at the compound” (S/2016/793 para. 38). The Annex documents further, ethnic-based sexual and gender-based violence against Nuer women and girls, totalling 217 cases in Juba documented by the UN including rape and gang rape, in the aftermath of the July violence (S/2016/793 Annex I, Annex III). The Annex also notes that although sixty soldiers were tried for human rights violations during the July violence, “no soldier was charged with rape or sexual violence” (S/2016/793 Annex III). However, the Panel of Experts will continue to monitor the results of the court martial proceedings, especially as they relate to sexual violence (S/2016/793 Annex III). Additionally, the report mentions that a maternity ward was damaged inside a United Nations House base during a bombing (S/2016/793 para. 39).
Components of the Mandate and “Other”
Security threats facing the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGNU)
This portion of the report documented the widespread violence, increasing ethnic tensions, and the collapse of the South Sudanese economy. The only reference to the women, peace and security agenda in this section was the brief mention of refugees reporting rape among other human rights violations. Although the Annex highlights the widespread and organized sexual violence perpetrated during and after the July violence in Juba, the report could have been stronger by expanding on the reference to rape to include systematic sexual and gender-based violence as a security threat alongside continued armed conflict in spite of a peace agreement, increasing ethnic conflict, and economic collapse. Specifically, the relatively brief mentions of violence against Nuer, “men and women,” and widespread sexual violence in the Annex would have been much stronger if included in the body of the report (S/2016/793 Annex I, Annex III). The report also should have reported on the context for sexual and gender-based violence, including the broader situation for women and discussing SGBV as part of the human rights concerns in South Sudan, instead of focusing only on high level individuals and groups perpetuating the violence. Additionally, while the Panel’s intention to continue to monitor court proceedings on cases of sexual violence was positive, the report should have gone further to condemn SGBV and call for accountability and an end to a culture of impunity, including by stating the Panel’s intent to list those individuals responsible for SGBV for sanctions, as per resolution 2290 (2016) OP 9 (d).
The report missed many opportunities to be stronger on reporting on all human rights violations, including SGBV and sex and age disaggregated data (SCR 1960 (2010), OP 8). The report missed the opportunity to include a gender analysis throughout and acknowledge women’s differing experiences and concerns regarding the security situation and economic collapse. As part of its reporting on human rights, the report failed to highlight the importance of gender-sensitive responses to SGBV, including in reporting and any judicial proceedings (SCR 2106 (2013), OP 2). The report also missed the opportunity to address stigma and other issues that may prevent survivors from accessing medical services (SCR 2106 (2013), OP 19) and judicial proceedings. Additionally, the report failed to include women’s civil society organizations in the monitoring of human rights violations, including in the Panel’s collection and analysis of information on human rights violations including SGBV, and women’s participation in human rights initiatives (SCR 2106 (2013), OP 5).
Transfers of arms and related materiel
This section focused on attempted arms procurement and reported sightings of fighter jets. The section failed to make any mention to the women, peace and security agenda, including providing any gender analysis on the use and impact of weapons, including the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. The report especially missed an opportunity to consider the impact of small arms and light weapons (SALW) on women and girls, given the report’s acknowledgement of the impact of flow of weapons on heightened levels of violence, including higher levels of SGBV, as per SCR 2117 (2013). In addition, the Panel of Experts should have emphasized the need to empower women, including through capacity-building efforts “to participate in the design and implementation of efforts related to the prevention, combating and eradication of the illicit transfer, and the destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons” in South Sudan (SCR 2242 (2015), OP 15).
Threats against the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, other United Nations agencies and international humanitarian personnel
In this section, the report discusses hostility towards and restriction of movement on UNMISS and attacks against humanitarian personnel. Although this section reported on the attack on an aid worker compound, which included the rape and gang rape of, “at least five international aid workers and an unknown number of staff,” the section could have been stronger by placing the attack in context of both ongoing ethnic violence and widespread sexual violence (S/2016/793 para. 38). The report also could have gone further in placing the attack in the context of high levels of violence against aid workers, using sex and age disaggregated data when reporting on attacks and providing a gendered analysis of what this attack, which, “represents a clear turning point in the level of brutality,” will mean for the continued provision of humanitarian aid. The report also should have included what gender-sensitive responses, including medical and psychosocial services, were available for survivors (SCR 2106 (2013), OP 19). Overall, the section failed to provide a gendered analysis of the hostility towards UN missions and operations in South Sudan, including if female members of staff were targeted and how opposition to a UN presence has impacted women, men, girls and boys differently, including movement restrictions. Furthermore, the section fails to provide an analysis of what the attacks on a Red Cross warehouse and maternity ward will mean for the provision of health services for all genders and medical response to the ongoing SGBV.
The conclusion very briefly summed up the report’s findings that the conflict is continuing and becoming more intractable, and that the influx of weapons is contributing to the perpetuation of the violence. The conclusion missed the opportunity to not only link the proliferation of weapons to the continuing conflict but also to sexual and gender-based violence, as per SRC 2117 (2013). Additionally, this section missed the opportunity to include failure of the transitional government to provide basic services for women or develop infrastructure to ensure their safety and economic empowerment in its acknowledgement that these failures have undermined the social fabric of South Sudan (SCR 1889 (2009), OP 10). The report also should have included sexual and gender-based violence in the evidence contributing to its conclusion that the conflict has become even more intractable (SCR 1820 (2008), OP 1; SCR 1888 (2009), OP 1; SCR 1960 (2010), OP 1; SCR 2106 (2013), OP 1). The report’s failure to include the impact of the situation for women and sexual and gender-based violence is particularly concerning as the conclusion is critical for further Security Council action and, without recognition of the women, peace and security agenda in this section, the Council may not prioritize it.
The report should have, overall, been more comprehensive in its inclusion of the women, peace and security agenda, especially by factoring in women’s empowerment and participation as part its consideration of the security situation. When enumerating the factors that contribute to the continued violence and insecurity, the report should have included women’s agency in seeking peace, instead of focusing on high-level individuals and armed groups, as well as acknowledged women’s differing experiences of and concerns in instability. The report also should have been more consistent in its consideration of women’s protection and sexual violence, including reporting on the attack on an aid worker compound. The report should have placed sexual violence in the context of the situation for women, reporting on sexual violence regularly throughout the body of the report, instead of mainly in the Annexes, and using sex and age disaggregated data alongside a gendered analysis of the impact of sexual violence. The report, additionally, should have been stronger by clearly linking its reporting on arms transfers and sexual violence. Finally, any future reporting must make it clear that the Panel of Experts intends to list individuals who perpetrate sexual violence for sanctions.