Status of the South Sudan Peace Process

1.       Hon. Chairperson, African Union,

2.       Hon. Chairperson, African Commission,

3.       Hon. Chairperson, African Union Peace and Security Council;

4.      African Union High Representative for South Sudan;

Your Excellencies,

We, the undersigned South Sudanese organizations, wish to express our sincerest appreciation to the African Union for its tireless efforts to bring to an end the untold suffering of the people of South Sudan as a result of armed conflict.

Your Excellencies, ahead of the 25thAfrican Union Summit next week, we would like to petition the African Union, the African Union Commission and the Peace and Security Council of the African Union to consider the following measures to alleviate the suffering of innocent civilians; 

1.       Prioritization of a permanent cessation of hostilities

Your Excellencies, the conflict in South Sudan continues to inflict untold suffering on the people of South Sudan with each passing day. It is our concern that in the absence of a complete, permanent and enforceable cessation of hostilities by all parties, the innocent civilians of South Sudan will continue to be denied the right to live peacefully and in dignity. Your Excellencies, the continued conflict also continues to inflict severe economic damage to South Sudan and the region with military spending disproportionately exceeding allocations to education, health and infrastructure at the expense of civilians.We appeal to Your Excellencies to call for the expeditious implementation of signed cessation of hostilities agreements, and to render all possible assistance for the implementation of IGAD-led efforts in the interests of protecting civilians and securing a sustainable peace.We welcome the decision in the communiqué of the 510th meeting of the AU PSC to take steps towards designation of individuals and entities for targeted sanctions consistent with the previous resolutions of IGAD as well as the immediate imposition of an arms embargo an all belligerents.

2.       The public release of the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan Report

Your Excellencies, the establishment of the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan on 7 March, 2014 to investigate the human rights violations committed during the armed conflict in South Sudan on 7 March, 2014 reinforced the confidence of the people of South Sudan in the African Union’s leadership and commitment to the search for peace in South Sudan. The outstanding work by the Commission under President Olusegun Obasanjo raised the communities’ hopes for accountability, healing and reconciliation. Your Excellencies, we believe that the trust and confidence bestowed upon the African Union by the people of South Sudan should not be lost at this crucial time. We urge the African Union Commission to publicly release the report of the AUCISS and take concrete steps to end the culture of impunity, deter ongoing and future human rights violations and create a conducive environment for the people of South Sudan to embark on a process of national healing and reconciliation.

3.       Inclusivity and participation in the mediation process

YourExcellencies, the IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government at their 24th and 27th extraordinary sessions as well as the Peace and Security Council of the African Union at their 440th meeting reiterated the need for an inclusive mediation process which requires the full participation of stakeholders. Your Excellencies, despite this commitment from IGAD and the AU PSC, we as civil society and religious groups continue to be concerned over the lack of opportunities for meaningful consultation and participation in the mediation process. We appeal to Your Excellencies to create space for the voices of South Sudanese who are currently suffering from the protracted conflict to be heard by impressing the need for meaningful participation by political parties, civil society, women’s groups and faith based groups in the next phase of mediation.

4.       Engagement with the People of South Sudan

Your Excellencies, from consultations with national stakeholders including but not limited to academia, civil society, women’s groups, political parties, religious leaders, the business community, national opinion leaders as well as the public, it has clearly emerged that the people of South Sudan do not know what is happening at the mediation talks and it is not clear who represents them. There is no feedback mechanism from the ground to the talks. We appeal to Your Excellencies as the vanguards of the African Union to invoke Article 4 of the AU Constitutive Act and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and actionably call for the establishment of mechanisms to ensure that the people of South Sudan are well informed on all ongoing processes by the AU and IGAD.

5.       Appointment of a senior gender adviser to the mediation

Your Excellencies, it is our belief that a truly inclusive mediation process should reflect gender balance to enable the voices of vulnerable women and children who suffer the most in times of conflict to be truly heard.  In this regard, we appeal to Your Excellencies to actionably request for the establishment of a senior gender adviser’s position and the appointment of such an adviser in consultation with all stakeholders to the next phase of the mediation.

6.       Respect for Humanitarian Work

Your Excellencies, since the outbreak of the conflict, humanitarian workers have bravely continued to provide essential life-saving services to civilians in dire need. The work of humanitarian agencies has alleviated the suffering and indignity of the most vulnerable civilians in conflict affected areas. Your Excellencies, we join the AU PSC in strongly condemning the increased disruptions in the supply of humanitarian relief services to vulnerable civilians as a result of hostilities between the government and the opposition and attacks on humanitarian workers. In this regard, we humbly appeal to Your Excellencies to for an actionable statement demanding the respect of humanitarian work in conflict affected areas and the strict and enforceable observance and upholding of international humanitarian law and human rights.

Your Excellencies, it is our sincere hope that you will favourably consider the proposals presented herein. We look forward to supporting the continued efforts of the AU and IGAD to bring peace to South Sudan under the auspices of IGAD Plus.

Please accept, Your Excellencies, the assurances of our highest consideration.

SIGNED:

1.      Assistance Mission in Africa (AMA)

2.      African Centre for Transitional Justice

3.      African Humanitarian Organization

4.      Dialogue and Research Initiative

5.      Community Empowerment for Progress Organization

6.      Centre for peace and development, University of Juba

7.      Citizens for Peace and Justice

8.      South Sudan Council of Churches

9.      South Sudan Law Society

10.  South Sudan Youth Peace and Development Organization (SSYPADO)

11.  Voice for Change

12.  Women Monthly Forum  

13.   Women and Youth Organization

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