The Council will be renewing the mandate of the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) in November. Given the grave situation for civilians, particularly for women and girls, the Council should focus on strengthening the human rights component of the mandate; ensure the mission has the logistical support and resources needed to carry out its protection of civilians’ mandate; address the ongoing sexual and gender-based violence; and promote women’s participation and issues in all aspects of the situation, including peacebuilding and community leadership in protection of civilians (PoC) sites. Sexual violence has played a major role in the conflict, and leaders from both sides need to be pressed to end these horrific abuses by their forces, as well as in PoC sites.
In order to fully implement UNMISS’ protection of civilian mandate, there should be a consistent plan for the protection of civilians inside, as well as around the perimeters of UNMISS camps, and a long-term emphasis on confidence-building through increased patrols, ongoing consultations with women and adolescent girls and appropriate and accessible service provision. Sanitary materials remain in short supply, and provision of fuel efficient stoves and domestic energy must be included in non-food items (NFI) packages. UNMISS should provide a visible presence to ensure the safety of women and girls during daily activities such as firewood and water collection. Specialized services for survivors must be established and financed by donors to provide care, document abuse and press for accountability in a manner that adheres to survivor confidentiality and informed consent. Further, the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism and Teams (MVM/T), although coordinated through Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), are housed in the UNMISS PoC sites and thus must ensure that sexual violence is tracked as a key violation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement. Additionally, the Security Council must encourage systematic tracking of sexual violence as well as women’s full participation in the roll-out of the MVM/T moving forward, including in the composition of the teams as well as the full gender and community sensitization of all the monitors and observers. The Security Council can apply pressure to the IGAD mediators to ensure not only that these violations are taken seriously and systematically tracked, but also that they make it to the center of the peace talks to hold both parties accountable when and where rape is used as a weapon of war.