The Security Council today extended the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and revised its mandate to give priority to the task of protecting civilians and to address the security, humanitarian and political crisis that has gripped the nation for the past six months.
In a unanimously adopted resolution, the Council decided to extend the Mission until 30 November 2014, and authorized it to use “all necessary means” to protect civilians, monitor and investigate human rights, create the conditions for delivery of humanitarian assistance, and support the implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement.
In doing so, the Council requested UNMISS to focus and streamline its activities, across its military, police and civilian components in order to achieve progress on the above-mentioned tasks, and recognized that “certain Mission tasks will therefore be ceased.”
The authorized troop and police strengths of the Mission will remain 12,500 and 1,323, respectively, as was decided by the Council in late December 2013 after political infighting between President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar turned into a full-fledged conflict that has uprooted over one million people.
At the same time, the Council today endorsed the recommendations made by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a recent report to increase the overall force levels of UNMISS to support its restructured mandate.
It requested Mr. Ban to review needs on the ground, and provide and updated assessment of the force’s operations, deployment and future requirements 120 days after the adoption of the resolution.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, the Secretary-General welcomed the adoption of the resolution, and underlined the importance of the new mandate. He also reiterated that every effort be made by potential contributors to deploy all troops, police and enablers to the Mission, as soon as possible.
“The Secretary-General reminds the parties of their primary responsibility to protect civilians from violence and end impunity,” the statement added. “He urges the parties to implement the Agreements signed by both parties on 23 January 2014, and as recommitted to on 9 May 2014, without further delay, show the political will necessary to advance the political process and provide their full cooperation to UNMISS as it carries out its mandate.”
In line with its mandate, UNMISS has been protecting between 75,000 and 80,000 civilians who have sought safety at its bases around the country for months since the violence began. In today’s resolution, the Council emphasized that the protection of civilians must be given priority in decisions about the use of available capacity and resources within the Mission.
The Council also condemned “in the strongest terms” attacks on and threats made to UNMISS personnel and UN facilities, including violations of the Status of Forces Agreement, and stressed that such attacks may constitute war crimes.