As South Sudan's one-year anniversary of its independence approaches, the United Nations Security Council approved measures to extend its peackeeping efforts for an additional 12 months in order to establish security and protection in the young nation.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) will focus its initiative of maintaining civilian protection and the nation’s security. The UN Security Council unanimously voted in favor of extending its peacekeeping mission for another year, according to a news release from the UN.
UNMISS is composed of more than 5,000 troops and maintains hundreds of police and UN civilian staff.
In the adopted resolution, the Security Council iterated the need for UNMISS, but it also called upon the South Sudan government to take a greater responsibility in establishing the security of its citizens and to work with UNMISS. It also urged the young nation to enhance female participation in political discourse and decision making in the country’s constitution revisions.
Violence has plagued the one-year-old country. Thousands have been displaced to the fighting and killing along the Sudan and South Sudan border. The 15-member Council stressed its concern about the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in South Sudan, which is known for initiating murder in villages, hurting men, women and children and forcing girls into sexual slavery.
“The government of South Sudan would like to see UNMISS doing much more than it did last year, and we will definitely call for a mandate to give it more powers,” said Francis Nazario, Sudan’s UN Ambassador, reports the Associated Press.
In April, the UN threatened to impose non-military sanctions against both Sudan and South Sudan if the border violence persisted. It was only within the last couple of weeks that negotiations between the two states restarted.
Due to this situation, the UN has stated that the humanitarian situation is deeply threatened by the “heightened insecurity along the Sudan/South Sudan border region and the conflict in Sudan’s Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States, as well as the inter-communal violence and widespread food insecurity.”
With the African nation’s first birthday approaching, Human Rights Watch issued a press release urging human rights to be the primary factor in policymaking, such as freedom of speech, ending the practices of unlawfully imprisonment and agreements of international human rights treaties.
“South Sudan clearly faces serious political, economic, and security challenges, but there are many human rights reforms that require only political will, not resources," said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "South Sudan should sign on to human rights treaties and take other low-cost steps to respect and protect human rights."