On 10 November 2016, the UK and Uganda co-hosted the fourth high-level meeting of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) Partners Group on South Sudan. Participants including the Foreign Ministers of Nigeria and Somalia and JMEC Chair, former Botswanan President Festus G. Mogae, discussed the current situation in South Sudan and measures for ending the current escalation of violence.
The following Statement was agreed by all participants in the meeting:
“We discussed the current situation in South Sudan and measures that could be taken to end the continuing escalation of violence and ensure that efforts to build peace in South Sudan through the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) are made more effective.
The violent clashes which began in July 2016 represent a serious breakdown in the fragile peace agreed under the ARCSS. The situation in Juba remains fragile as tensions rise and violence increases across the rest of South Sudan. This fighting violates the peace agreement and is having a devastating impact on the lives of millions of South Sudanese people. We call for an immediate cessation of hostilities and encourage all armed groups to join the peace process as the only way forward for resolving political differences. There is no military solution to South Sudan’s problems.
We commend the efforts of the JMEC under the leadership of former President Festus G. Mogae on its work to try to keep the peace agreement alive under these challenging circumstances. We recognise the important roles that IGAD Plus partners have played in supporting the JMEC and urge leaders in the region to remain actively engaged. We specifically recognise the role that Kenya has played so far, and express our hope that Kenya will continue to play a key role in supporting the peace process. We further note the commitments made by the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGNU) to keep the ARCSS alive.
The only way forward in South Sudan is through a genuine and inclusive political process that sees all interests engaged in shaping the future of this young country. Inclusivity is not about individuals. Inclusivity means inviting all ‘parties’ to join the process peacefully and ensuring genuine representation of the national character in government. All parties must demonstrate their commitment to peace by taking meaningful steps to end violence and ceasefire violations. We strongly call on all parties to lay down their weapons and engage in peaceful and inclusive political dialogue – not just in Juba, but across the whole of South Sudan.
We strongly condemn all instances of hate speech, ethnically targeted killings and incitement to violence. These are in violation of the peace agreement and put the future of the country at great risk. We commend the efforts of community and religious leaders to ease tension and work to unify the country.
We remain gravely concerned about the fragile security environment and the desperate economic and humanitarian situation in South Sudan. We particularly recognise the role played by neighbouring countries in hosting large numbers of refugees from the current crisis. Continued violations of the ceasefire and the hindrance of humanitarian assistance are exacerbating the suffering of civilians and cannot be tolerated. All parties must take urgent steps to ensure that humanitarian actors are granted free, safe and unhindered access to people in need, in compliance with international obligations, and allow the people of South Sudan to return safely to their homes and livelihoods.
We note the acceptance letter sent by the TGNU to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on deployment of the Regional Protection Force (RPF), and welcome the progress that has been made. The TGNU must also take urgent steps to facilitate the deployment of the RPF and allow UNMISS to fulfil its mandate without restrictions or bureaucratic impediments. A failure to do this cannot and will not be tolerated by the regional and international community. The TGNU has a responsibility to deliver on the commitments it has made to all its people and to the international community. The institutions (Strategic Defence and Security Review Board (SDSR), Joint Military Ceasefire Commission (JMCC) and Joint Operations Centre (JOC)), established under the ARCSS, should be revived and strengthened according to the ARCSS, to achieve sustainable security arrangements.
The JMEC Partners Group will continue to press for peace in South Sudan. The TGNU should endeavour to do whatever is within its means to implement the ARCSS. The region and international community will meet to consider appropriate action if no positive developments are seen on these urgent issues and on progress towards peace in South Sudan. We will review progress at the next meeting of the JMEC Partners Group in February 2017.”