South Sudan: Prospects for Peace and Development - International Development Committee Contents

6  Security, conflict prevention and peacebuilding

79. Prospects for development in South Sudan will largely depend on achieving stability and security in the newly independent country. Insecurity remains a constant destabilising factor in South Sudan, with conflict accounting for 3,200 fatalities from January to October 2011. This death-toll is three times the total for 2010.[143] There are numerous security challenges for the GRSS and the international community to address. Several armed rebel groups are still at large in some states, such as Unity and Upper Nile. On-going, low-level conflict, both inter-tribal and intra-tribal, is widespread. Approximately one million weapons are in circulation. The security context is further complicated by the difficult relationship with the Republic of Sudan and the potential for spill-over from the conflicts in Abyei, South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

80. The GRSS is ill-equipped to tackle these internal and external security threats. The Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) is too large and possesses the structure and mindset of a guerrilla force rather than a modern army under civilian control. The USA is leading security sector reform programmes to develop and train a modern army and police force; DFID will contribute about £25m over six years. This is likely to take many years to achieve. Dr Sara Pantuliano told us that "we are still a long away from seeing an effective police force and a professional army that citizens can trust and respect".[144] For the moment, the GRSS is largely reliant on UN peacekeeping troops and, to a lesser extent, civil society actors such as the Sudan Council of Churches (SCC), to assist in peacebuilding, conflict prevention and mediation work. In this Chapter, we examine efforts to stabilise the security situation in South Sudan, with a particular focus on the roles of the United Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the SCC.

United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)

81. UNMISS was established in July 2011, under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, for an initial period of one year. It has a mission to consolidate peace and security conditions conducive for development, as well as to assist the GRSS to improve governance and develop its own capacity to provide security and establish the rule of law. Its authorised strength is 7,000 military personnel, 900 civilian police personnel and an "appropriate" civilian component. Full capacity is expected to be reached within three years; by February 2012, 4,900 military personnel, 450 police and about 1,800 civilian personnel had been deployed.[145] Peacekeeping in South Sudan is expensive, due to the lack of infrastructure such as roads.[146] The approved budget for UNMISS's first year is £456m.[147] Over half this amount (£246m) will be spent on "operational requirements",[148] a third (£153m) on military and police personnel, and the remainder (£57m) on civilian personnel.[149] The UK contribution is £60 million, 13% of UNMISS's budget.[150] We met the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General, Hilde Johnson, and other senior UNMISS officials during our visit.

82. We heard contrasting evidence about the performance of UNMISS. GRSS ministers in Juba were generally positive: UNMISS was considered to be a useful deterrent which helped create safe working environments for NGOs and others. Archbishop Deng of the Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) valued UNMISS's provision of helicopters to transport Church mediators to conflict areas, such as Jonglei. We note that UNMISS has received praise for its response to tribal violence in Jonglei in late December 2011 and early January 2012 (see Box 5).[151] Mr Stephen O'Brien MP, DFID Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, said that UNMISS had played an "important role in reducing casualties" in Jonglei on this occasion—although it could still learn lessons to be "better prepared" in future, for example through better use of early warning systems and "more robust troop deployment and posture".[152]
Box 5: Violence in Jonglei State, December 2011-January 2012

The period between Christmas and New Year 2011 witnessed an attack on Murle communities in Pibor county, Jonglei State, by thousands of heavily armed members of the predominantly Lou Nuer "White Army" militia. This marked the latest in a cycle of killings between the two tribes reaching back to 2009. Three villages were burned down.[153] Over 110,000 people were affected and more than 60,000 displaced, including large numbers of unaccompanied children. An unknown number were killed. 50,000 to 80,000 heads of Murle cattle were seized. On 5 January, the Government of South Sudan declared Jonglei a disaster zone and asked humanitarian agencies to accelerate life-saving assistance. UNMISS conducted daily air and land patrols to the state. It transported half of its combat-ready personnel to the heavily-populated areas of Pibor and Likuongole. The attacks also saw the SPLA—for the first time in recent Jonglei history—ordered to stand up to Nuer fighters and to protect civilians.[154]

83. A common theme in evidence was that UNMISS lacked sufficient troops and resources for the size of the country.[155] We were told on our visit that UN Member States[156] had not allocated UNMISS sufficient resources to implement its mandate. Dr Pantuliano told us that it was "impossible, given the size of the mission and the kind of assets they have, to provide the effective protection that is required".[157] Melinda Young from Save the Children said that UNMISS did not have the capacity to "deal with two Jongleis at once".[158] We heard that UNMISS's mobility was affected by a shortage of helicopters (in part, caused by Russia's withdrawal of its helicopters)[159] and a lack of any military aircraft, a point also emphasised publicly by Lise Grande, UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator.[160] DFID agrees that UNMISS has "regularly been stretched in responding to specific crises". But whilst the Department recognises the need for UNMISS to have "more helicopters and heavy-lift assets", it appears reluctant to support an increase in troop numbers.[161] The Minister noted that the UN Security Council had reviewed UNMISS's resources in January 2012 and decided to maintain military troop levels at 7,000. He wanted UNMISS to focus instead on "immediate challenges" such as the "deployment [of troops], where and how they are deployed, the rapidity of their response capabilities, and being flexible in the access they have to assets, not least heavy lift and helicopters".[162] We agree with this statement. In Eastern Equatoria we saw many UNMISS troops based in places where there was no apparent risk of violence or disorder and who seemed to be largely involved in low-level policing operations.

84. Some witnesses believed that UNMISS's mandate should be broadened. The Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) and UK partners argued that the UN Security Council should give UNMISS a "border-monitoring component" to its mandate. On the other hand, the Minister did not believe that it was the right time to change UNMISS's mandate.[163] He wanted it to focus on its current mandate, namely peacebuilding and conflict prevention within South Sudan. We note that UNMISS produced a draft peacebuilding strategy in March 2012, four months later than specified in the initial UN Security Resolution, although this has still not been finalised.

85. Given the range of security challenges in South Sudan—and the ineffectiveness of the country's army and police force—it is essential that the international community provides a robust peacekeeping force. The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), however, has had a difficult beginning. It appears to lack the air assets it requires for a country of this size. It has been slow to produce a peacebuilding strategy. We are concerned that its mandate is too broad and unrealistic.

86. Costing almost half a billion pounds in its first year—and still under-capacity—UNMISS is also a hugely expensive operation. It costs the UK taxpayer two thirds of DFID's annual development and humanitarian budget for South Sudan. UNMISS does not currently provide value-for-money and its current resources have not been deployed most effectively. The UK Government should press the UN for an urgent review of UNMISS's cost, mandate, assets and operations, including the deployment of troops.

87. In the medium-term, the aim must be for the Government of South Sudan (GRSS), army and police to take on primary responsibility for internal security in South Sudan and for dependence on UNMISS to be reduced. This will require technical assistance, including assistance to the military (which will not count as Official Development Assistance). The Department should work alongside the United States, UNMISS and the GRSS to produce a strategy to enable this transition to take place.

The Church's peacebuilding and mediation role

88. The Sudan Council of Churches (SCC)—consisting of six churches located in Southern Sudan—played an important peacebuilding and mediation role during the 22 years of civil war in South Sudan and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement period. Since independence, Archbishop Deng, the leader of the Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) and key figure in the SCC, whom we met in Juba, has been heavily involved in mediation efforts between tribes, particularly in Jonglei State.[164] Church representatives told us that the SCC had a "unique advantage" in its peacekeeping and mediation work because it reached into every part of the community.[165]

89. The Minister agreed that the SCC was a "crucial partner" for peace and development in South Sudan.[166] It could play a particularly important role in Jonglei "engaging in grassroots mobilisation for peace".[167] DFID allocated £250,000 to the SCC in 2012 to facilitate this (the funding will focus on disarmament amongst rural people).[168] Interestingly, the Department also suggested that the recent Jonglei attacks had seen the "break down of the peace process being led by Archbishop Deng and the SCC". Whilst the SCC would continue to have an "important role to play in Jonglei", this would be "most likely as part of a 'twin track' approach led by the Government of South Sudan". In evidence, Mark Mallalieu, Head of DFID South Sudan, explained:

    "The thing that has changed is that previously the Church was given a role, or asked to play a role, by the Government that was perhaps unreasonable. The Church could not deliver that kind of peace resolution process in the way that it was being asked on its own."[169]

90. We asked Church representatives to respond to the Department's analysis. The ECS and UK partners told us that the churches "continue to maintain the confidence of the people" and would work as a "strong and complementary" actor in the peace processes. However, the ECS noted that the GRSS and SPLA had been slow to respond to church leaders' repeated requests, from as early as September 2011, to deploy troops to protect civilians when attacks in Jonglei were anticipated.[170]

91. It will clearly take time to build the capacity of the GRSS, army and police to take on primary responsibility for peacekeeping and mediation. In the meantime, DFID must not disregard the constructive role that the Sudan Council of Churches can play in this area.

143   OCHA Back

144   Q 46 Back

145   UNMISS website, "Facts and figures", The statistics for civilians are as of November 2011. Back

146   Q 44 [Episcopal Church of Sudan and UK partners] Back

147   UN General Assembly, Approved resources for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012, A/C.5/66/14 Back

148   More expensive items in this category include air transportation, facilities and infrastructure, and ground transportation. Back

149   UN General Assembly, Approved resources for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012, A/C.5/66/14 Back

150   SS17d Back

151   Q 2. See also Q 28 [Save the Children] Back

152   Q 113; Ev 90. Back

153   "South Sudan cattle clashes: UN moves troops to Pibor", BBC News Online, 30 December 2011 Back

154   SS17a, para 11 Back

155   Q38 [Dr Sara Pantuliano] Back

156   Specifically the UN Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), which is composed of 16 members appointed by the UN General Assembly. Back

157   Q 38 Back

158   Q 2. See also Q 28. Back

159   In January 2012, Russia announced it would withdraw its peacekeeping troops from South Sudan, consisting of eight helicopters and 120 personnel, by April amid concerns over the safety of its personnel. Back

160   Q 114 [DFID]; Lise Grande quote in BBC News, "South Sudan cattle clashes: UN moves troops to Pibor", 30 December 2011; Ev 90. Back

161   Ev 90 Back

162   Q 113 Back

163   Q 113 Back

164   This was mandated by President Salva Kiir (Q 39) Back

165   Q 39 Back

166   Q 122 Back

167   Q 121 Back

168   Qq 42, 122. This will be used to hold a joint conference between the Lou Nuer and Murle communities in Jonglei.  Back

169   Q 124 Back

170   We were told that warnings by Archbishop Deng as early as September 2011about possible violence in Jonglei had not been acted upon. Back

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Prepared 12 April 2012