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Thursday, August 11, 2022
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 22 2014 (IPS) - Ivan Šimonović, the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights stressed the importance of monitoring and public reporting to a sustainable peace in South Sudan, in a press briefing on January 20 following his trip to the country last week.
Šimonović repeatedly impressed the role of establishing facts and making them public in initiating and supporting reconciliation and accountability.
“It is extremely important to establish facts, it is important to make those facts public to deter continued violations of human rights, but it is also important for communities to understand better the real situation,” said Šimonović. “Only reliable reporting can help them to reconcile, knowing that both sides have been involved as perpetrators as well as victims.”
In the effort towards accountability, Šimonović also stressed his support for the African Union Security Council’s decision to establish an international commission of inquiry. He indicated that such a commission would likely have a higher threshold for obtaining evidence than a UN human rights investigation, and would prove valuable in paving the way for criminal proceedings.
In meeting with both government and non-governmental forces, Šimonović confirmed an understanding of the need for monitoring, fact-finding and accountability from both sides. However, he also expressed a belief that challenges lay ahead regarding these efforts.
He defined the situation as “grim”, citing the presence of mass killings, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, looting, burning, child soldiers, summary executions and sexual violence. Šimonović indicated that many thousands had died since the conflict began confirming the presence of crimes against humanity and war crimes, though not genocide, but would not cite a specific death toll.
The present conflict in South Sudan began in December 2013 as a result of a power struggle between President Salva Kiir and a faction of the nation’s military, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) headed by Riek Machar. The conflict has since generally devolved along ethnic lines with Neurs siding with Kiir and Dinkas siding with Machar.
Šimonović also noted the low level of social development in South Sudan, despite its wealth of oil resources, as a root cause of the conflict. Stating that while the national GDP of 1,800 dollars is relatively high compared to other nations in the region, the social development indicators are some of the lowest in the world.
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