The United States joined the following statement, which was read before the Human Rights Council by Belgium.
Joint statement on the human rights situation in South Sudan
Item 4 General Debate
Jun 20, 2014
This statement is delivered on behalf of the EU, Australia, Canada, Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Norway, and the United States who wanted to take this opportunity to express their deepest concerns about the serious deterioration of the human rights situation in South Sudan since the beginning of the fighting in mid-December 2013.
We condemn in the strongest possible terms the massive and systematic human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, committed by all parties to the conflict, including widespread killing of hundreds of civilians, enforced disappearances, sexual violence and rape, arbitrary arrests, attacks on hospitals and places of worship, as well as UN bases and peacekeeping personnel, and violence aimed at spreading terror among the civilian population. We note that the last UNMISS report suggested that some of these may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity.
We are very appreciative and fully supportive of the ongoing regional efforts to bring the crisis to an end. We particularly commend IGAD Mediation efforts and welcome recent achievements in the negotiations with the May 9th agreement laying the foundation for a discussion on the future transitional government of national unity and the June 10 commitment to form this government within the next 60 days. Parties need now to deliver and negotiate in earnest and without delay, while striving to address the root causes and to create a sustainable and equitable political framework for the future, incorporating the views and needs of all South Sudanese in the peace process to influence the future direction of their country.
However, despite these positive developments, the situation in South Sudan continues to be of great concern. While most large-scale fighting has subsided in recent weeks, violations to the Cessation of Hostilities agreement are still observed and the human rights and humanitarian situation remains dire. In this regard, we would also like to reiterate our full support to the work of the African Union Commission of Inquiry to look into accountability for human rights violations and abuses. While South Sudanese people are in urgent need of healing and reconciliation after the atrocities committed during the conflict, they also deserve justice – the perpetrators of criminal acts must be identified, judged and, if found guilty, punished.
We also believe the Human Rights Council, as the main UN body for the promotion and protection of human rights, must be closely involved in the situation in South Sudan in a way that would be complementary and useful to the regional efforts. Human rights violations and abuses of such gravity and massive scale are of great concern to the whole international community. The situation requires thorough, regular and long-term monitoring and reporting to the Council on new developments.
We are, therefore, looking towards the African Group’s leadership and to the country concerned with strong expectations that they will make full use of the Council’s tools in order to complement the efforts of the African Union Commission of Inquiry. And that the resolution on South Sudan to be adopted at this Council’s session will contain an appropriate mandate to monitor and report on the situation of human rights in South Sudan to the Human Rights Council, and make recommendations with regard to effective accountability and technical assistance.
The text tabled by South Sudan yesterday minimizes the gravity of these violations and abuses and suggests that the Council need not consider the situation in the country for another 18 months. This is not appropriate.
Thank you Mr. President.