Situation of Human Rights in South Sudan
Introductory Statement by the United States of America
As Delivered by William J. Mozdzierz
Head of the U.S. Delegation
Human Rights Council 34th session
Geneva, March 24, 2017
Thank you, Mr. President.
We thank South Sudan, members of the African Group, our core group members, Albania, Paraguay, and the United Kingdom, and all other member states and stakeholders for their constructive engagement on this resolution.
The human rights situation in South Sudan is deeply alarming to us all. Numerous reports and statements, including from the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, and the African Union have detailed ongoing gross human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law. Just last week, we heard from the Commission chilling accounts of whole villages burned to ashes, women gang raped, young girls held as sexual slaves, and individuals targeted because of their perceived political allegiances, as calculated by ethnicity. The report also underscores that impunity for these and other severe human rights violations and abuses remains widespread.
We are also gravely concerned about the recent declaration of famine in parts of the former Unity State, as well as severe food insecurity affecting millions as highlighted yesterday by the Secretary-General. Mass displacements continue within and outside South Sudan.
We must come together to address these atrocities and put an end to the humanitarian crisis. The Human Rights Council must condemn violence by all sides, encourage domestic and regional efforts to foster a national reconciliation process, and ensure accountability.
In response to the Commission’s recommendations, we put forward today a resolution to enhance the Commission’s mandate to determine and report the facts and circumstances of, collect and preserve evidence of, and clarify responsibility for alleged gross violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes. The Commission’s work will be made available to transitional justice mechanisms, including the Hybrid Court, to help end impunity and lay the groundwork for accountability. In this vein, we reiterate our call for the speedy establishment of the Hybrid Court by the African Union pursuant to Chapter V of the 2015 peace agreement.
We welcome the Government of South Sudan’s stated commitment to cooperate with OHCHR, UN special procedures, and the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan. We call upon the Government to continue to cooperate fully and constructively with and to provide unhindered access to them, as well as to provide such access to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, the Regional Protection Force, regional, subregional, and international mechanisms, and humanitarian workers on the ground.
We are encouraged by the strong support from other delegations that have joined us in cosponsoring this resolution.
Our shared goals are to prevent this human rights crisis, dating to 2013, from intensifying and to help South Sudan establish a just and enduring peace. It is urgently important to address the ongoing atrocities in South Sudan and to renew the Commission’s mandate.
Thank you, Mr. President.