UN official urges Southern Sudan to sign up to key human rights treaties

22 June 2011

The world’s soon-to-be newest country, Southern Sudan, must ensure that it ratifies all key global treaties upholding human rights and ensure that its citizens are able to enjoy basic freedoms once it becomes independent, a senior United Nations official said today.

Kyung-wha Kang, the Deputy UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told students, diplomats, the media and others gathered at Juba University that Southern Sudan must demonstrate its commitment to becoming a democracy based on equal rights and dignity for all.

Southern Sudan will become independent on 9 July after a referendum in January in which voters overwhelmingly backed secession from the rest of Sudan. The referendum was held as part of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the long-running civil war in Sudan.

“This new beginning for South Sudan should be anchored on a bold vision of freedom from fear, freedom from want and need, and peaceful co-existence in mutual respect,” Ms. Kang said.

“This of course is the human rights of the people of South Sudan. But it is also about the fundamental principles that should underpin the development and security policies of this fledgling country.”

Ms. Kang called on Southern Sudanese authorities to provide a forum that is accountable and open to the public and serve as a mechanism to channel the aspirations of the people.

“We thus urge the Government of South Sudan to ratify the core international human rights treaties, creating the normative framework for national legislation that will protect and promote human rights in South Sudan.

“Efforts must be exerted to ensure that national laws promulgated by the Assembly are in harmony with these international standards, and that they are applied to national issues.”

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