Analysis of Resolution 2046 (2018) on South Sudan (March 2018)


Resolution 2406 (2018) extends the mandate for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) until 15 March 2019. In the resolution, the Security Council reiterated its grave alarm at the escalating political, security, socio-economic, and humanitarian crisis in the country and expressed its support for the high-level peace process, notably the efforts of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF). [1]S/RES/2406 (2018) PPs 3-7 In addition to underscoring the important role of IGAD, the African Union, and the Government of South Sudan in fostering stability, peace, and security, the Council expressed its intention to consider all measures, notably an arms embargo and further sanctions, as consequences towards those who violate the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities (ACOH). [2]S/RES/2406 (2018) OP. 3

UNMISS is mandated to ensure conflict prevention, mediation, mitigation, resolution, and protection of civilians through human rights monitoring, investigating, and reporting; to foster participation in political processes; and to protect children affected by armed conflict. The Security Council made improvements to the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda provisions in this UNMISS mandate renewal, improving upon the previous mandate renewal (S/RES/2327 (2016)) by adding new language in the preambular and operative paragraphs. The WPS references in the mandate focus on the importance of strengthening protections from sexual and gender-based violence, calling for the inclusion of civil society organizations, and ensuring women’s empowerment and participation in decision-making forums.

The preambular paragraphs condemned instances of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) and contained three new references to protections of women from targeted acts of sexual violence, enforcement of zero-tolerance sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA), and the full and effective participation and empowerment of women at all stages of peace processes. [3]S/RES/2406 PPs. 14, 23, and 25 respectively Discussions and references to sexual and gender-based violence are diverse, notably calling for an environment of deterrence of such violence and condemning all forms of SGBV as human rights abuses and violations of international human rights law. [4]S/RES/2406 PPs. 10 and 15 Additionally, new language in the operative paragraphs calls  for the investigation and prosecution of crimes of SGBV and CRSV, protection of children and girls in situations of armed conflict, and enhanced reporting requirements on women’s participation. [5]S/RES/2406 OPs. 7(a(vii), 25, and 33 respectively This new language seems to be in response to the Report of the Secretary-General (S/2018/163) and Special Report (S/2018/143), which notes the risks of violence against women and children and highlights the lack of protection mechanisms and monitoring for SGBV.

Notwithstanding positive additions and revisions, further modification is needed to add a nuanced, gender dimension to current WPS language and address remaining generalities and gaps. The inclusion of additional gender-sensitive provisions and language in the mandate will enable UNMISS to undertake essential WPS-specific tasks and further centralize the WPS Agenda in peace processes and peacekeeping operations.

Analysis by thematic issue

Implementation of the Agreement & Peace Process

In resolution 2406 (2018), the Security Council calls for active engagement in peace and reconciliation processes, particularly by urging The Government of South Sudan to cooperate with all international and regional organizations and to support the continued efforts of IGAD to maintain stable peace and security. The resolution reiterated the 14 December 2017 (S/PRST/2017/25) Presidential Statement, noting the potential costs and consequences for those who “undermine” the IGAD HLRF peace process, with the caveat that actors or entities responsible or complicit in threatening peace, security or stability of South Sudan may be subject to targeted sanctions pursuant to resolution 2206. [6]S/RES/2406 (2018) PP. 7

The resolution contains two references to women’s participation, with the Council reiterating the need for women’s full and effective representation and participation in all conflict resolution and peacebuilding efforts and calling on the mission to include information on women’s participation in peace processes in reports submitted to the Secretary-General. [7]S/RES/2406 PP. 25, OP. 4, 33 Notwithstanding these references, there are opportunities for improving the resolution, notably by enhancing the “full and equal” participation of women and  emphasizing that it must occur “at all levels” and particularly in IGAD peace dialogues in accordance with resolutions 1889 (2009), OPs 1, 7;, 2104 (2013), PP 6; 2106 (2013), OPs 1 11, 12; 2122 (2013),  OPs 1, 4, 5, 7(c), 15; 2242 (2015), OP 16; and 2352 (2017), OP 16. Across the board, future references on the importance of women’s engagement, empowerment, and participation should include language that emphasizes the importance of a gender lens, as outlined by Security Council resolutions 1889 (2009), OP 1; 2122 (2013), OPs 4, 7(a)(c); and 2242 (2015), OP 1 on women’s participation.

While the Council condemns the targeting and censorship of civil society organizations (CSO), future resolutions should strengthen the role and presence of CSOs in peacekeeping activities. [8]S/RES/2406 PP. 15 While the resolution currently calls for the “full and effective participation” of civil society in peace processes, future resolutions should include nuanced language that calls on the mission to actively engage with women’s groups and women’s civil society organizations as mandated task, ensuring participation at all levels of local, regional, and international peace dialogues and ensured protections in light of threats of violence and censorship per resolutions 1889 (2009), OPs 1, 7, 9, 10, 11; 2122 (2013), OPs 4, 6, 7(a), 15; and 2242 (2015), OP 1. [9]S/RES/2406 OP. 4 The Council should reintroduce the reference in support of women’s civil society organizations in international and regional peace dialogues in accordance with Security Council resolutions 1960 (2010) OP 8; 2106 (2010) OP 11; 2122 (2013) OPs 6, 7(a)(b)); and 2242 (2015) OPs 5(c), 16.

Human Rights & Protection of Civilians

Resolution 2406 (2018) includes language on a broad range of issues related to the protection and promotion of women’s rights, including sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), and sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA). The resolution calls upon all parties to end abuses and violations of international human rights law and further asks the Secretary-General to enhance monitoring, analysis, and reporting arrangements on human rights violations and CRSV, including rape in situations of armed conflict and post-conflict, which is a mandated task. [10]S/RES/1996 (2011) OP. 24 (mandate) & S/RES/2406 (2017) OP. 7av-vii c ii-iv and 30

Sexual and gender-based violence

The Resolution condemns all attacks against civilians including ethnically targeted violence, rape, and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) carried out against women and children. [11]S/RES/2406 PP. 14-15 The preambular paragraphs particularly take note of the “systematic and widespread use of sexual violence as a tactic by parties to the conflict against civilian population, particularly women and girls”. [12]S/RES/2406 PP. 17

This mandate renewal maintains previous language on the role armed groups within the country have in commissioning and also preventing SGBV and CRSV. The resolution urges the SPLA and SPLA-IO to stop committing acts of sexual violence; the TGNU and the SPLA/IO to implement the joint and unilateral commitments and action plans on CRSV prevention; and the SPLA leadership to continue issuing orders that deter CRSV. [13]S/RES/2406 OP. 26 While the resolution also demands that the TGNU demonstrate their steps for holding CRSV perpetrators accountable for their crimes, it fails to provide the UNMISS or other intergovernmental authorities working in the region with the oversight power to hold the SPLA, SPLA-IO, and TGNU accountable.

The mandate renewal also retains language on the need to “monitor, investigate, verify and report specifically and publicly” violations and abuses against women and children, including all forms of sexual and gender-based violence in armed conflict. [14]S/RES/2406 OP. 7(c(ii)) This reporting and investigating commitment is further cemented by a new reference that calls upon the mission to strengthen protection-focused activities, sensitization campaigns on SGBV and CRSV, and also calls for “technical assistance or advice on international humanitarian law, investigation and prosecution” for crimes of sexual and gender-based violence and SGBV and conflict-related sexual violence. [15]S/RES/2406 OP. 7(a(vii)) The combination of these references denotes more focused attention on delivering justice and accountability for such crimes; notwithstanding, it is imperative that the Security Council urge the mission to implement such mechanisms and monitor UNMISS’s progress in this regard.

The resolution also acknowledges the potential of the “unarmed civilian population” in building protective environments that deter SGBV. [16]S/RES/2406 PP. 10 However, this detail is not reflected in the mandate or operative paragraphs. As such, the Council should urge the mission to support the participation of women and women’s groups in prevention and protection efforts against sexual violence pursuant to resolutions 1888 (2009), OPs 1, 10 and 2106 (2013), OPs 1, 9, 11, 21. Women’s engagement in SGBV prevention, protection, and rehabilitation is an essential component of targeted proactive action in areas subjected to conflict-related sexual violence and SGBV. The addition of focused language would reflect the importance of not only protecting women from sexual and gender-based violence but most importantly, stressing women’s role in the process of combating sexual violence in their communities.

Positively, the mandate contained a new reference on providing technical assistance and prosecution of SGBV and CRSV to strengthen the protection of civilians. [17]S/RES/2406 OP. 7(a(vii)) This reference is framed within a broader mandate provision calling on UNMISS to foster a secure environment through human rights monitoring and coordination with police, security forces, government, and “civil society actors in relevant and protection-focused activities”. [18]Ibid This reference can be further enhanced in future mandate renewals by including the provision of legal, psychosocial, and sexual/reproductive health services for survivors of sexual violence in accordance with Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security. [19]S/RES/1888 (2009) OPs. 3, 13; S/RES/1889 (2009) OPs. 10-11; S/RES/2106 (2013) OPs. 1, 19-20; and S/RES/2242 (2015) OPs. 14, 16 Such an addition will allow for capacity-building within the mission, and will reinforce operative paragraph 31 calling upon the Government of South Sudan to ensure that “all victims of sexual violence have equal protection under the law and equal access to justice, and to safeguard equal respect for the rights of women and girls in these processes” per paragraph 3.2.2 of Chapter V of the Peace Agreement.

In light of UNMISS’ special report (S/2018/143) and the Secretary-General’s report (S/2018/163) which emphasized the risk of violence women and children and the lack of protection or monitoring mechanisms for SGBV, this resolution presents many missed opportunities in the discussion of SGBV. Current language in the preambular section on the protection of women, children, and young girls should be strengthened with references to the impact that sexual violence against women plays in exacerbating conflict in the operative paragraphs and UNMISS mandate provisions pursuant to Security Council Resolutions 1820 (2008), OPs 1, 4; 1888 (2009), OPs 1, 11; and 2122 (2013), OP 2(e). In future mandate renewals, the Council should include provisions focused on women’s protection, safety, and security with regard to public safety and security in UNMISS PoC sites; and nuance the principle to “deter and prevent” SGBV by calling for mission-wide evaluation of prevention activities and methods to measure their efficacy, specifically gathering data on how these activities impact sexual violence prevention/reporting as well as analyzing how well prevention strategies are integrated into communities and how or if perpetrators are being held accountable for such crimes. [20]S/RES/2406 OP. 7 (a(iv)(v)) Further, this resolution’s language continues to generalize “violations and abuses” and group “women and children”, thereby essentializing women as victims and disregarding the gender-based dimensions of violence. [21]S/RES/2406 PP. 9 More specificity and sensitivity is necessary to ensure effective monitoring and, by extension, protection is afforded to civilians. New language should have more concrete, actionable language on human rights violations with an inclusive gender dimension, including children, men, and women alike, per resolutions 2122 (2013), OP 5; and 2242 (2015), OP 6, 16.

Protection of Civilians

In light of the increasing extent of violence in South Sudan exacerbated by mass displacement, famine, and inter-ethnic conflict, the Council urges UNMISS to enhance protection efforts in and around protection of civilian sites in order to create conditions conducive to aid delivery and humanitarian monitoring and investigating. UNMISS is urged to use its good offices to participate in discussions with the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) and the Regional Protection Force to facilitate safe and free movement of civilians around Juba. Furthermore, the Special Report to the Secretary-General outlines that the mass displacement of about 2 million South Sudanese continues to hinder the protection of civilians, making it the most challenging aspect of the Mission mandate. [22]S/2018/143 #10 The worsening security situation and the government’s disregard for civilian protection make activities that aim to prevent SGBV, inter-ethnic and local conflict, and allow for the safe and voluntary return of internally displaced persons and refugees particularly difficult. [23]Ibid

Despite slight additions to language on women’s protection, there are many missed opportunities. UNMISS is responsible for the protection of civilians under threat of physical violence “irrespective of the source of such violence,” a mandated task encompassing sexual and gender-based violence and conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV). [24]S/RES/1996 (2011) OP. 24 and S/RES/2406 OP. 7(a(i)(vii)) Such gender-neutral language of mandate tasks on protection and violence persists, which diminishes the importance of the reporting conducted [both the SG Report S/2018/163 and  the Special Report S/2018/143], which revealed increased vulnerabilities and risk of violence against women and children, particularly girls, in South Sudan. [25]S/RES/2406 OP 7(a(i)), S/2016/951 #27 (report), S/2018/163 #6, 37,42 (report) & S/2018/143 #10-11, 13, 23, 34 (special report) Future mandate renewals should explicitly reference the protection of women, not just civilians, as well as note that “physical violence” encompasses sexual and gender-based violence and “any other form of sexual violence, in keeping with commitments in the preambular paragraphs and Security Council resolutions 1820 (2008), OP 1; 1888 (2009), OPs 1, 11; and 1960 (2010), OP 3 and agreed upon language in OCHA Aide Memoire (2014). [26]OCHA Aide Memoire (2014) pg. 8 (A)

Humanitarian Assistance

Noting with regret the lack of adherence to the permanent ceasefire and the suspension of IGAD peace talks in Addis Ababa in February, the resolution contains new preambular references to life-saving humanitarian assistance and the new ad hoc legislation, taxes, and permits that are hampering assistance delivery. [27]S/RES/2406 PP. 20 In light of the lack of humanitarian assistance delivery, the mission mandate continues to stress the principles of humanitarian assistance “including humanity, impartiality, neutrality, and independence”. [28]S/RES/2406 OP. 7(b(ii)) The resolution’s mandate also notes that the mission must continue to provide technical assistance or advice “on international humanitarian law, investigation and prosecution” regarding SGBV, CRSV, and other human rights violations to strengthen protection of civilian activities. [29]S/RES/2406 OP. 7(a(vii))

Notwithstanding the retention of such references, the resolution contains no elaboration on the importance of ensuring these assistance efforts are gender-sensitive. The language throughout the resolution should be enhanced to note that humanitarian assistance should be gender-sensitive and non-discriminatory in accordance with Security Council resolution 2242 (2016), OPs 4, 7, and 16. In future mandate renewals, the Council should specifically improve upon language on delivery by noting that women also require unhindered access to humanitarian assistance by virtue of their health needs and universal basic rights. [30]S/RES/2406 OP. 7(b(i)) Given that threats to women’s safety, the Council should ensure that Security Council members are proactive in their commitments to the WPS Agenda noted in Resolutions 1960 (2010), OP 3; 2122 (2013), OP 4, 5; 2242 (2015), OP 1, 15.

Sexual exploitation and abuse

The resolution has two total references to sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA): one in the preambular paragraphs and one in the operative paragraphs. [31]S/RES/2406 (2018), PP 24 & OP 17 The new preambular reference expresses grave concern for recent allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse and stresses the “urgent need” to investigate such allegations in a “credible and transparent manner” to increase accountability for such crimes. [32]S/RES/2406 (2018), PP 24 The reference to SEA in the operative paragraphs requests that the SG ensure  “full compliance” by UNMISS in instituting the zero-tolerance policy on SEA, vetting all personnel for histories of sexual misconduct, and urging all troop and police-contributing countries to take appropriate preventative action including awareness training in pre-deployment, and to promote the full accountability of personnel. [33]S/RES/2406 (2018), OP 17 While the reference to SEA was first introduced in S/RES/2327 (2016), the language is unchanged in the current resolution, which fails to call for further action to address continued SEA violations within the mission. Such violations have been confirmed in briefings to the Security Council and the report of the Secretary-General S/2018/163. [34]S/RES/2327 (2018), OP 16; S/2018/163, para. 58

While the “full extent” of CRSV and SGBV within South Sudan is not clear, it is “decidedly one of the prominent features” of the humanitarian crisis that remains a source of concern. [35]S/2018/143 #30 In light of gaps in accountability and monitoring, this section requires modifications with improved WPS language on how sexual violence and sexual exploitation and abuse can be used as a tactic of war and the need for an accountability framework within UMISS to ensure compliance on the “development of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) training and mechanisms”, and a gender response training for UN and local personnel, as outlined in Resolutions S/RES/1820 (2008), 1960 (2010) OP 5, 2106 (2013) OP 8, and 2242 (2015) OPs 4, and 7. In accordance with this mandate, UNMISS should continue its sexual violence and SEA risk assessments and work with community leaders, civil society organizations, and NGOs to enhance community safety for women, girls, and survivors: as noted in S/2018/163, without a safe community environment and honest reporting channels free from intimidation, there will not be an effective way to increase  the community-based complaint mechanisms already in place in Juba, Aweil, Bentiu, Bor, Gorom, Malakal and Yambio . [36]S/2018/163, para. 58 Furthermore, the Security Council should urge the mission to make the necessary arrangements to hold UN mission personnel accused of SEA accountable to provide justice for victims and stop impunity for sexual violence crimes in accordance with the WPS agenda and to retain the integrity of mission activities.

Women’s Protection Adviser

The resolution maintains previous references and language on the role of a Women’s Protection Advisor (WPA) in the operative paragraphs. [37]S/RES/2406 OP. 7(a(i)) A mandated task, the presence and continued use of a WPA to protect civilians from threats of physical violence in all deployment areas is carried out within UNMISS in accordance with Security Council resolution 2242 (2015). [38]Ibid In light of the report of the Secretary-General (S/2018/163) and the strategic review (S/2018/143), which documents cases of sexual and gender-based violence, sexual assault, harassment, and conflict-related sexual violence, the mission should differentiate these forms of physical violence, as well as enhance the language defining the role of the WPA in order to better support the women’s protection in South Sudan.

Security Sector Reform

Reference to disarmament and security sector reform (SSR) was limited to one preambular paragraph, which failed to note the importance of women’s participation in DDR processes or their protection from small arms and light weapons (SALW). [39]S/RES/2406 PP. 28 Despite the Council’s expression of concern at the threat to peace and security brought about by the illicit transfer, accumulation, and misuse of SALW in South Sudan, more nuanced language is crucial in addressing how women, children, and men as distinct populations are affected by SALW in the preambular paragraph. The Council should include gender-inclusive WPS language throughout future resolutions to reinforce human rights and women’s protection against the threats of SALW in line with Resolutions 2106 (2013) OPs 16(a)(b); 2122 (2013) OP 4; and 2242 (2015) OP 15.  Language that ensures the protection of civilians, particularly women, during SSR processes, and also addresses the dimensions of security and peace processes that are exacerbated by SGBV, would be a positive step to ensure the protection of women in all spaces and processes, as expressed in Resolution 2106 (2013) OP 1.