Delegates Urge National Leaders to Accelerate Implementation of Peace Agreement
Three years after the signing of its historic Revitalized Peace Agreement, halting political strides in South Sudan should now infuse the country’s transition with a fresh urgency, officials told the Security Council today, citing an expanding raft of humanitarian and security challenges still plaguing the young nation.
Nicholas Haysom, who is the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for South Sudan and Head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), presented the latest report on the situation (document S/2021/784) and outlined the latest developments — including the reconstitution and inauguration of South Sudan’s Parliament in August. In addition, the country made history with the appointment of its first female Speaker of the National Legislative Assembly and a female Deputy Speaker of the Council of States.
“These positive steps must now be complemented by the reconstitution of the subnational state legislatures,” he said, adding that it will pave the way for a much-delayed charge on the legislative programme envisaged by the Revitalized Peace Agreement. In particular, launching the Constitution-making process is both a critical benchmark of the 2018 Peace Agreement and an important step in its own right. UNMISS is supporting preparations for the country’ elections — a timeline for which no consensus has yet been reached — and ensuring that consultations are inclusive. “Unless there are adequate technical and political preparations, [the election] could be a catastrophe instead of a national turning point,” he warned.
Outlining additional challenges, he cited an increase in subnational violence, the proliferation of weapons and a recent fracture within the group known as the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) — a signatory of the Revitalized Peace Agreement — which has only exacerbated the imbalance between the main parties. He also expressed concern over increasing restrictions in South Sudan’s civic space, and the detention of journalists and leaders of civil society groups, as well as the shutting down of Internet service providers following recent calls for non-violent protests. A deteriorating humanitarian situation, coupled with rising attacks on aid workers, is also worrying, he said.
Reena Ghelani, Director for Operations and Advocacy at the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said South Sudan is facing its highest levels of food insecurity since its independence in 2011. More than 60 per cent of its people are severely food insecure amid conflict, climate shocks, displacement, COVID-19 and lack of investment. Over 8.3 million people, including 1.4 million children, need assistance. Noting that humanitarian actors have been able to avert famine so far, she said attacks by non-State armed groups continue to hamper their access to vulnerable populations. There is also pressure from widespread displacement, and with more heavy rains expected in the coming months, thousands of additional people will be forced to moved, she warned.
Also briefing the Council was Merekaje Lorna, a South Sudanese human rights defender, civil rights activist and peace advocate. Welcoming steps taken towards implementing the Revitalized Peace Agreement, she nevertheless said they have been slow, “minimal, inconsistent and intermittent”. Many citizens believe the delays only serve the interest of the political elite while prolonging the suffering of the masses. Citing the steady increase in the scale and intensity of intercommunal conflicts in the years following the signing of the Peace Agreement, she said women and girls are most affected. She warned against the tendency by the Government to postpone addressing critical issues, such as managing diversity and embarking on reconciliation, declaring: “The citizens don’t know who to trust anymore.”
In the ensuing discussion, several Council members echoed the Special Representative’s call on South Sudanese leaders to accelerate the implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement — especially its security-related provisions — as the situation on the ground continues to deteriorate. Many also called on the new Parliament to expeditiously enact laws to speed up dealing with insecurity, improve governance and provide much-needed public services to a population suffering from a broad and growing list of urgent challenges.
The representative of the United States joined other speakers in calling on all the South Sudanese parties to urgently follow through with the Revitalized Peace Agreement’s implementation — including preparations for elections that are free, fair, peaceful and reflect the will of the people. Voicing concern about recent efforts to limit political opposition, free speech and freedom of assembly, he urged the country’s leaders to take immediate steps to protect civilians and humanitarian workers, as attacks against the latter have led to the suspension of crucial humanitarian deliveries.
Kenya’s representative, also speaking on behalf of Niger, Tunisia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, called for an immediate end to violence and urged all the parties to implement the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) — the main regional player monitoring the situation. He called for the prompt deployment of the Necessary Unified Forces and other critical transitional security elements. On the humanitarian situation, he welcomed efforts by the Government to provide protection to internally displaced persons and returnees, while urging the international community to extend its own generous support.
The representative of China, echoing support for regional leadership from IGAD and the African Union, spotlighted considerable progress in South Sudan and called for efforts to finally lift the sanctions imposed on the country. To mitigate the challenges of food insecurity, the COVID-19 pandemic and large-scale humanitarian needs, he urged the international community to provide financial and technical support, with particular investments in agriculture, education and health care.
Mexico’s representative was among those speakers who drew attention to the threat posed to the Revitalized Peace Agreement by the splintering of the SPLA-IO group, while urging its various factions to resolve their differences peacefully and protect civilians. Leaders in Western Equatoria and other states afflicted by recent clashes should work closely with UNMISS to reduce violence, in strict compliance with international human rights standards. Among other things, he also called for efforts to address the needs of those suffering from displacement, malnutrition, flooding and the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.
The representative of South Sudan, responding to points made by Council members, said his country’s many challenges would be overcome faster with the international community’s redoubled efforts and commitments. Highlighting several notable recent achievements, he pointed out that South Sudan’s delegation to the General Assembly’s forthcoming high-level debate will be led by Vice-President Rebecca Nyandeng Garang de Mabior and will include five female cabinet ministers. “This is a source of pride,” he stressed, encouraging delegates to engage in bilateral meetings on the debate’s margins to hear more about the situation in South Sudan.
Also participating were the representatives of India, France, Russian Federation, Viet Nam, Norway, Estonia, United Kingdom and Ireland.
The meeting began at 10:08 a.m. and ended at 10:46 a.m.
NICHOLAS HAYSOM, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for South Sudan and Head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), noted that the country marked the three-year anniversary of its 2018 Revitalized Peace Agreement on 12 September. Emphasizing that it provides the only broadly agreed framework through which long-term stability and durable peace can be achieved in South Sudan, he outlined some recent positive developments since his last briefing, including the inauguration of the reconstituted Parliament in August. The country made history with the appointment of its first female Speaker of the National Legislative Assembly and a female Deputy Speaker of the Council of States.
“These positive steps must now be complemented by the reconstitution of the subnational state legislatures,” he said, adding that it will pave the way for a much-delayed charge on the legislative programme envisaged by the Revitalized Peace Agreement. Expressing hope that the reconstitution of the Parliament will present an opportunity to infuse urgency in the implementation of the peace process, he described the Constitution-making process as both a critical benchmark in implementing the Peace Agreement and an important step in its own right. “It should signify a social contract between all South Sudanese on the arrangements by which they can live together in peace and harmony,” he said.
In that context, he said UNMISS and the United Nations country team are working with local organizations to ensure that Constitutional consultations are inclusive and voices outside the political elites, particularly at grassroots levels, are heard. Also outlining the Mission’s support for electoral preparations, he said no consensus yet exists on “exact timelines” and the most generous interpretation would see elections in early 2023. “Unless there are adequate technical and political preparations, this event could be a catastrophe instead of a national turning point,” he warned, asking the Council to actively encourage all those involved — including the international community — to focus their attention on that task.
Recalling his report, during his last Council briefing, on the establishment of a high-level coordination committee comprising senior representatives from the Government and UNMISS, he said that arrangement has now improved the freedom of movement of the Missions’ patrols. Meanwhile, efforts in public finance management, with the support from the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to address salary arrears and harmonize exchange rates have yielded positive results.
While commending those developments, he stressed that many challenges remain. One unfortunate result of the slow pace in the implementation of the transitional security arrangements is the recent fractures within the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO). The desertions by forces led by Generals Gatwech, Olony and Thomas Dhul, and the conflicts between these groups and the forces loyal to Riek Machar, will undermine the peace process. At the political level, that has exacerbated the imbalance between the main parties to the Revitalized Peace Agreement. “It is imperative that the parties put aside adversarial politics to work as a unity Government in support of peace,” he stressed.
Turning to the broader security environment, he said monitoring bodies are reporting a decline in fighting between parties to the Revitalized Peace Agreement. However, an increase in subnational violence — as seen in Greater Tonj, Tambura and elsewhere — is a source of real concern. The situation is aggravated by the proliferation of small arms, and, outside Juba, underresourced state governance and security structures. Reiterating the Government’s responsibility to do more to protect civilians, he said UNMISS is also increasing its grassroots engagement to promote community harmony and make available alternative rule-of-law institutions.
He went on to express concern over increasing restrictions in civic space, the detention of journalists and leaders of civil society groups, as well as the shutting down of Internet service providers following the calls for non-violent protests by the People’s Coalition for Civic Action. All participants in the peace process should continue to work together in a respectful and inclusive manner, expand civic and political space for an intra-South Sudanese dialogue. Also voicing deep concern over the country’s severe humanitarian challenges, he emphasized that “the relationship between climate and conflict is ever clearer”. Among other things, desperation resulting from economic pressures and scarce resources have manifested attacks on humanitarian partners and their operations.
REENA GHELANI, Director for Operations and Advocacy, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said that South Sudan is facing its highest levels of food insecurity since independence. More than 60 per cent of its people are severely food insecure, against the backdrop of conflict, climate shocks, displacement, COVID-19 and lack of investment. More than 8.3 million people, including 1.4 million children, need humanitarian assistance. Thanks to a substantive response by humanitarian agencies, however, famine has been averted in at-risk counties, amid a broader aid operation which has helped 4.4 million across South Sudan in the first half of 2021.
“Notwithstanding these gains, there has been limited change in the behaviour by non-State armed groups and certain youth groups that continue to hamper access,” she said. So far in 2021, four aid workers have lost their lives and more than 170 have been forced to relocate due to security threats. More than 1,000 metric tonnes of food — valued at more than $1 million — has been looted from humanitarian facilities. Frequent attacks on convoys, including along a key humanitarian supply route from Uganda, have disrupted aid operations and increased the price of essential goods.
Compounding this challenging situation is a deterioration in the security situation in Tambura, Western Equatoria, which has prompted the displacement of 80,000 people, and armed conflict in Central Equatoria mainly involving non-signatory parties to the Revitalized Peace Agreement and other armed factions, which has displaced more than 120,000 people, she said. A third straight year of exceptional flooding has meanwhile affected nearly 426,000 people along the River Nile, the Sudd wetland and the Sobat. With more heavy rains expected in the coming months, thousands of people will be forced to move, and there is a risk that flooding may lessen any food security gains, she warned.
The $1.7 billion South Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan is the country’s largest ever, but it is only 56 per cent funded, she said. South Sudan has received $39 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund, while the South Sudan Humanitarian Fund released $63 million to address food insecurity, civilian protection needs and the consequences of COVID-19. However, funding challenges have forced the World Food Programme (WFP) to scale back food rations in refugee, civilian protection and internally displaced persons’ camps. In October, WFP will be forced to stop its support in some camps in Bor, Juba and Wau due to the redirection of resources to counties on the brink of famine. She added that efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 in South Sudan have had a limited impact due to challenges in the health system’s ability to carry out vaccinations and low uptake of vaccine.
“Although we prevented a catastrophe this year, with all the challenges faced, we will have to remain ever vigilant to ensure we do not come to the brink of famine again this coming year,” she said. Going forward, all actors with influence must work to de-escalate the violence. While the peace process has had a real impact in parts of South Sudan, its implementation is progressing at a very slow pace and violence is continuing. Member States must keep up the momentum to build peace and security across South Sudan, she stressed, adding that humanitarians need ongoing support from the Government to ensure safe and unhindered access to people in need. In addition to additional resources for the Humanitarian Response Plan, donors should provide funding at scale early in 2022 “so that we can get ahead of needs which are anticipated to rise,” she said.
MEREKAJE LORNA, Secretary General of the South Sudan Democratic Engagement, Monitoring and Observation Programme, described herself as a South Sudanese human rights defender, civil rights activist and peace advocate. Welcoming steps taken towards implementing the Revitalized Peace Agreement, she nevertheless said they have been “minimal, inconsistent and intermittent” and the pace has been slow. “The parties don’t seem committed to full implementation of [the Agreement], hence prolonging the transitional period and delaying critical governance reforms,” she said. Many South Sudanese citizens feel that the delayed implementation only serves the interest of the political elite while prolonging the suffering of the masses.
Stressing that unhealed wounds and continued violence have left the country “deeply fragmented and bleeding”, she said despite an initial reduction in violence following the signing of the Peace Agreement in 2018, the following years have seen a systematic increase in the scale and intensity of so-called intercommunal conflicts. Women and girls have been particularly affected by conflict-related sexual violence and sexual and gender-based violence, while nearly everyone lives in fear of armed robbery and the possible resumption of full-fledged conflict. “The citizens don’t know who to trust anymore,” she said, calling on the Transitional Government to expedite unification of the armed forces, implement comprehensive security sector reform and establish a national disarmament, demobilization and reintegration progress “without discrimination or favour”.
She warned against the tendency by the South Sudanese authorities to postpone addressing critical issues, such as managing diversities and ethnicity, healing and reconciliation, accountability, reform and transformation. Human rights violations continue to occur, including the intimidation of civil society, women’s groups, media and now the private sector. Severe restrictions on freedom of assembly remain in place. She recalled that the Government on 30 August rolled out heavy military hardware and deployed soldiers on the streets of Juba to deter a proposed protest. Noting that not a single school has been constructed using a national budget allocation since the country’s independence, she emphasized that “education, health, water and roads do not seem to form the national priorities”. Youth unemployment is high, and women remain largely excluded from national processes.
In that context, she asked the Council to authorize the UNMISS mandate to support the implementation of key legislative reforms and an inclusive and participatory Constitution-making process, as well as to facilitate the conduct of free, fair and peaceful elections. She also asked it to authorize the Mission to provide capacity-building, support and facilitation to the Government — not only in rule of law and justice, but also to support governance and ensure accountability. She also asked members to authorize UNMISS to facilitate periodic engagement with the Government and civil society groups in order to build confidence and support implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement.
RICHARD M. MILLS, JR. (United States) urged the South Sudanese parties to urgently follow through with implementing all elements of the Revitalized Peace Agreement, including preparations for elections that are free, fair, peaceful and reflect the will of the people. Such elections must be preceded by an inclusive and transparent Constitution-drafting process, he said, echoing concerns raised about recent efforts to limit political opposition, free speech and freedom of assembly. In the last month alone, tens of thousands of civilians in Tambura and elsewhere faced violence between rival militias, leading to mass displacement. In another reported incident, a non-governmental organization-run health facility was looted and vandalized. Rapes, forced recruitment and the use of child soldiers have been reported. Calling on South Sudanese leaders to take immediate and effective steps to protect civilians and humanitarian workers, he said continued attacks against the latter have also led to the suspension of crucial humanitarian deliveries. Those who attack humanitarian personnel may be liable for targeted sanctions measures, he warned.
JUAN GÓMEZ ROBLEDO VERDUZCO (Mexico) echoed calls for the acceleration of the Revitalized Peace Agreement’s implementation, especially those parts related to security arrangements. Calling on the various factions of SPLA-IO to resolve their differences peacefully and observe the protection of civilians, he said the Agreement remains the only viable framework for peace. Leaders in Western Equatoria and other locales afflicted by recent clashes should work closely with UNMISS to reduce violence, in strict compliance with international human rights standards. Noting that the recent disorder disproportionately affects women and girls, he called for more efforts to guarantee accountability for crimes committed against them. He also called for more action to address the needs of those suffering from displacement, malnutrition, flooding and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and asked the Government to ensure safe and unhindered humanitarian access. Greater efforts are also needed to ensure that the 35 per cent quota for women’s participation in the Government is met.
MADHU SUDAN RAVINDRAN (India) encouraged the Transitional National Legislative Assembly and the Council of States to focus on much-needed legislative work to meet the benchmarks set in the Revitalized Agreement. Talks must also resume to revive the reconciliation process between the Transitional Government and the South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance. It is encouraging that economic reforms have helped to improve macroeconomic stability and public finances while also mitigating the impact of COVID-19. India supports calls for a cessation of hostilities between the rival factions and the observance of a reasonable distance between them to prevent further violence. Noting that India is a leading troop contributor to UNMISS, he urged the Mission to keep moving forward on the transition of the Malakal Protection of Civilians site as conditions permit, in line with its mandate. With humanitarian needs growing, the international community must step in to bridge the gap in funding, he added.
MARTIN KIMANI (Kenya), speaking also on behalf of Niger, Tunisia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, said that South Sudan’s new Parliament should expeditiously enact legislation to speed up implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement, improve governance, provide much-needed public services and meaningfully deal with insecurity. He welcomed efforts towards achieving gender representation in governance institutions and encouraged the parties to remain committed to the principle of inclusivity. He called for an immediate end to ongoing armed violence in parts of South Sudan and urged the Government and others to implement the Intergovernmental Authority on Development’s (IGAD) recommendations and decisions regarding the security situation. More also needs to be done to speed up implementation of transitional security arrangements, including the deployment of the Necessary Unified Forces, implementation of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, and finalization of the Strategic Defence and Security Review. For its part, the Council should encourage progress by extending much-needed diplomatic, technical and financial support to implement the Revitalized Peace Agreement, he said.
Turning to the humanitarian situation, he said that it is encouraging to see the Government of South Sudan continue to provide protection for internally displaced persons and returnees. International partners must continue to extend humanitarian support to address existing shortfalls. The Government should take steps to ensure the safety, protection and security of all humanitarian workers and agencies and to facilitate the for safe and efficient delivery of humanitarian assistance. He called on UNMISS to make full use of the provisions of resolution 2567 (2021) to expand its work, and expressed appreciation for ongoing efforts by the United Nations, African Union, IGAD and others in supporting South Sudan on its journey towards peace, stability and prosperity.
SHERAZ GASRI (France) welcomed recent progress made in South Sudan, especially in improving the freedom of movement of UNMISS. Recalling that the Council defined a strategic vision in its resolutions reauthorizing the Mission’s mandate — such as the inclusion of an electoral preparations support element — she called on the Government to accelerate that process and upon all parties to prioritize unity. The recent splintering of some Peace Agreement signatories represents a threat to the ceasefire, she warned, urging all actors to uphold their obligations under international law. Against that backdrop, she voiced concern about reports of repression against those exercising their right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression, and about reports of extrajudicial killings in some states. She also condemned attacks against medical and humanitarian personnel, noting that South Sudan remains one of the world’s most dangerous environments for such workers. Humanitarian needs throughout the country remain immense, with a growing risk of famine, and humanitarian workers must be able to move freely to address them.
ANNA M. EVSTIGNEEVA (Russian Federation), congratulating South Sudan on the tenth anniversary of its independence, said her country stands ready as a permanent Council member to support its efforts towards peace and stability. She welcomed the inauguration of the new Transitional National Legislative Assembly and the Council of States, looked forward to the formation of a unified armed forces, and called on non-signatories to the Revitalized Agreement to join the state-building process. She expressed concern at sporadic intercommunal violence in parts of South Sudan, as well as the socio-economic and humanitarian situation, and condemned all ceasefire violations and acts of violence against civilians, including humanitarian workers. She went on to say that as the situation in South Sudan stabilizes, the sanctions regime should be reviewed. Hopefully, the authorities can make substantial progress towards implementing the benchmarks set out in Council resolution 2577 (2021) to ease the arms embargo.
PHAM HAI ANH (Viet Nam) said progress in South Sudan’s peace process should be fully recognized and built upon. He called on the Government and other parties to step up implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement, culminating in national elections; on relevant parties to resolve their differences and avoid any adverse impact on the peace process; and on those in power to facilitate women’s participation in the Government in line with the 35 per cent quota. Also commending leadership provided by regional actors, he urged the Government of South Sudan to more actively address intercommunal violence and ensure the safety of humanitarian workers and civilians. Viet Nam will continue to support the work of UNMISS, including through the deployment of female peacekeepers. Meanwhile, tackling the high and rising level of food insecurity and other humanitarian challenges in South Sudan remains crucial. The international community should strengthen its financial support to avert the threat of famine, combat the spread of COVID-19 and accelerate vaccinations. Regarding sanctions, he urged the Council to continue to review South Sudan’s progress against benchmarks laid out in resolution 2577 (2021) with a view to lifting the measures imposed.
MONA JUUL (Norway) said that, while UNMISS and the international community clearly remain committed to supporting South Sudan, the Government has the primary responsibility for the welfare of its people. Expressing deep concern over the security situation, she described the level of violence as unacceptably high. Of particular concern is the fighting in Tambura and Western Equatoria, which is taking place along ethnic lines. “Slow implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement is a significant driver of conflict,” she said, noting that it creates discontent and provides incentives for destabilizing defections. Praising IGAD’s rapid response, she warned that a collapse of the peace agreement will have dire consequences for the entire region. There is now a need to focus on the implementation of the peace agreement’s chapter on security arrangements and lay the legal basis for a Constitutional Conference as soon as possible.
DAI BING (China) welcomed the political progress made three years after the signing of the Revitalized Peace Agreement, as leaders reconstituted the Transitional National Legislative Assembly. Noting that the Revitalized Peace Agreement provides the key policy framework, he called for continued efforts to prepare for elections and build the unified forces. He also advocated for support from the African Union and IGAD in lifting the sanctions against South Sudan. On recent divisions within SPLM/A-IO, he underscored the importance of intercommunal reconciliation. To mitigate the challenges of food insecurity, COVID-19 and large humanitarian needs, he urged the international community to provide financial and technical support, with more investments in agriculture, education and health care. Expressing concern about the difficulties faced by humanitarian agencies, he encouraged parties to create favourable conditions for them to carry out their work.
SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia), welcoming the Government’s various positive actions over the reporting period, expressed hope that authorities will continue to work towards the reforms set out in the Revitalized Peace Agreement. “Otherwise, the upcoming elections cannot be seen as transparent, credible and inclusive,” he warned. Voicing concern about the suppression of South Sudan’s civic space, he said the arbitrary arrests, detention and harassment of human rights activists — as well as the shutdown of major Internet service providers — are unacceptable. Calling for the immediate release of all individuals arrested during the planned protests, he voiced concern about the recent disputes within SPLM/A-IO, describing them as another threat to the already-fragile peace. He also called on the Government to investigate the extrajudicial executions carried out in Warrap and Lakes, which allegedly had the approval of officials from those states.
JAMES KARIUKI (United Kingdom) welcomed the recent progress in South Sudan, including the inauguration of Parliament, exchange rate reforms and public financial management reforms. However, he said that the delays in the implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement are causing suffering and instability, and called on all actors to work towards an improved security situation and for the long overdue graduation of the Necessary Unified Force. He urged the Government of South Sudan to respect the freedoms of speech, association and expression guaranteed in the Transitional Constitution, and to take steps to ensure an open, inclusive and fair path to elections. He went on to point out that 7.2 million people — 60 per cent of the country’s population — are likely to face acute food insecurity in the coming months. Increased violence has displaced tens of thousands and interrupted humanitarian delivery, while humanitarian workers and their assets continue to be targeted, he added, reiterating that South Sudan’s future stability and prosperity depend on “fundamental building blocks”, including an end to violence, respect for human rights and humanitarian access, and a path to inclusive and credible elections.
BRIAN PATRICK FLYNN (Ireland), Council President for September, spoke in his national capacity, stating that the international community has not seen the progress it hoped for over the past three years following the signing of the Revitalized Peace Agreement. A ceasefire alone does not guarantee peace and should become the foundation for peacebuilding and a broad-based political process, he said, calling on the South Sudanese authorities to ensure the full, equal and meaningful participation of women, in particular the 35 per cent quota for them, as well as the inclusion of youth. The obstacles facing the country are many, from shrinking civil society space and widespread food insecurity, to extrajudicial killings and increasingly disaffected youth. However, they are not insurmountable. A renewed commitment by South Sudan’s leaders, allied with the determination of the people and support by the international and humanitarian communities, can overcome these challenges. Protection of civilians is rightly at the heart of the UNMISS mandate. Regarding redesignated camps for internally displaced persons, he said the human rights of those affected must be put to the fore.
AKUEI BONA MALWAL (South Sudan) said his country’s many remaining challenges would be overcome faster with the international community’s redoubled efforts and commitments. Highlighting some achievements, he said IMF and South Sudan’s financial authorities have developed a mechanism to stabilize the dollar rate in the market, which has been encouraging for the overall economy. Turning to gender issues, he pointed out that South Sudan’s delegation to the General Assembly’s forthcoming high-level segment will be led by Vice-President Rebecca Nyandeng Garang de Mabior and will include five female cabinet ministers. “This is a source of pride, for we have always assured this Council that the pledge of 35 per cent gender representation is a serious pledge,” he said, encouraging delegations to engage in bilateral meetings, if time and COVID-19 rules allow, to hear more about South Sudan’s general situation. “As we solidify the peace process and unite our communities, that percentage will increase over time.”