U.S. Statement at the Special Session of the Human Rights Council on South Sudan

harpersudanHuman Rights Council Special Session on South Sudan
U.S. Delegation Statement

As delivered by Ambassador Keith Harper
United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva

Geneva,
December 14, 2016,

Thank you, Mr. President.

We welcome this special session, which is urgently needed to address the grave human rights crisis in South Sudan.  We thank our fellow core group members, Albania, Paraguay, and the United Kingdom, for their leadership.

The United States is deeply alarmed by the violence in South Sudan, particularly in the Equatoria region, which could quickly spiral out of control.  We’re especially concerned about the hardening of the conflict’s ethnic dimensions, including the numerous reports of ethnically-motivated hate speech by all sides, as well as reports from the Commission of ethnic cleansing in multiple parts of the country.  We are also shocked at the unprecedented scale of sexual and gender-based violence.

The United States is deeply concerned about the targeting of civilians, and we condemn the government’s violent crackdown against all forms of dissent, including journalists and human rights defenders.

A first and critical step in the direction of accountability for these acts is to ensure the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan is fully empowered to establish the facts and circumstances of alleged violations and abuses of human rights, identify perpetrators as appropriate and make recommendations to this Council on steps needed to end impunity and ensure accountability.

It is also critical to establish the Hybrid Court for South Sudan, called for in the current peace agreement, in order to hold those most responsible for atrocities to account.  We hope that the Government of South Sudan cooperates with the African Union quickly to establish the Court.

While we acknowledge the government’s cooperation with OHCHR and UN special procedures and urge that cooperation continues, we remain concerned about the government’s ongoing obstruction of humanitarian assistance which exacerbates an already dire humanitarian situation and near-famine conditions. We therefore reiterate our demand for unhindered access for UNMISS and humanitarian actors, and we support the UN’s mandate to protect civilians and to deploy the Regional Protection Force.

Thank you, Mr. President.