Report of the Secretary-General on South Sudan (S/2016/138)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016
S. Sudan
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Peace Processes
Displacement and Humanitarian Response
Human Rights
Security Council Agenda Geographical Topic: 
South Sudan
Document PDF: 

Report of the Secretary-General on South Sudan (S/2016/138)

Report of the Secretary-General on South Sudan (S/2016/138)

Code: S/2016/138

Date: 9 February 2016

Topic: This report by the Secretary-General is on the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), covering the time period from 10 November 2015 to 2 February 2016


Women, Peace and Security


Pursuant to S/RES/2252 (2015), this report by the Secretary-General gives account on major developments in South Sudan, including updates on the current political, security and humanitarian situation. Given the extensive reporting on the protection of civilians mandate, most references to women focus on the protection pillar of the WPS agenda, calling for specific protection measures for women (and children) and providing sex-disaggregated data in several instances to outline the adverse impact of the severe security and humanitarian situation as well as women’s human rights abuses, including incidences of gender-based and sexual violence in and outside of PoC sites.[1]In considering the PoC mandate, the report gives an account of 27 conflict management workshops for various stakeholders in and outside of PoC sites, which, inter alia, specifically addressed women leaders.[2] The report further includes three UNMISS-led workshops promoting women’s involvement in community dialogue.[3] Considering UNMISS’s physical protection strategy, the report accounts for the mitigation of external security threats in the surroundings of PoC sites through targeted patrolling, including for women and girls leaving the sites for livelihood activities.[4] Sex-disaggregated data is further provided when referring to women casualties, the number of women detainees, and the numbers of women, men, girls and boys who participated in risk education on landmines and explosive remnants.[5] Additionally, the report does not only reiterate the commitment of UNMISS to the zero-tolerance policy on sexual-exploitation and abuse for all its staff but also reports on the operation of the previously established task force to ensure compliance as well as on the provision of mandatory training on sexual exploitation, abuse and other prohibited conduct.[6] Ultimately, the report also accounts for the implementation of an additional information-sharing protocol between the Gender-based Violence Information Management System and the Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Arrangements, which defines the guiding principles and procedures for sharing anonymous statistical data on reported cases of SGBV.[7] While reporting on women’s participation in the peace process would ideally be stronger, one can assume that gender-sensitive reporting is being taken equally seriously as in previous reports and that a gender lens is being applied throughout the implementation of the various mandate components.


References in Need of Improvement and Missed Opportunities


Political Process

Considering recent political developments, including meetings of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, the Joint Military Ceasefire Commission, the National Constitutional Amendment Committee and the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism, as well as ongoing negotiations regarding the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity, the report does not follow up with the Security Council’s commitment to monitor women’s representation in official decision-making institutions and their participation in the peace process, as stated in the previous report.[8] Ideally, to fully confirm the Security Council’s commitment to the participation pillar of the WPS agenda, the report should have detailed whether and to what extent women leaders and representatives of women’s civil society organizations were involved in these processes to ensure a gender-balanced perspective on the issues at stake and to ensure that women’s concerns were adequately addressed.


Protection of Civilians (PoC)

The mention of UNMISS’s three-tiered PoC approach and their endorsement of a “protection through dialogue and engagement” strategy demonstrates UNMISS’s assessment and discussion of security concerns on a local level and directly with the affected population. However, the report should have detailed whether UNMISS’s meetings “with state and local authorities, civil society and other actors to promote dialogue, peace and reconciliation”[9] were inclusive of representatives of women’s civil society organizations to account for women’s specific security concerns. Moreover, the report should have mentioned whether women were among the key stakeholders that received early warning information and whether community watch groups on community policing programs were inclusive of women.[10] Ultimately, in accounting for initiatives to assess the varying needs of returnees, including protection measures and reintegration assistance, the report should have detailed whether women IDPs were or will be consulted to specifically address their needs upon return or relocation, including comprehensive psycho-social assistance and livelihood support.[11]


Humanitarian Support

Considering the deteriorating humanitarian situation and challenges in regards to humanitarian access, the report would have greatly benefited from commenting on whether UNMISS or any partner organization operating in South Sudan, had conducted gender-sensitive needs assessments to identify whether and how women, particularly internally displaced women, are affected differently in order to effectively tailor humanitarian assistance to their needs. The report further fails to mention whether humanitarian assistance includes measures to specifically cater to women’s needs, such as secure access to sanitation facilities as well as hygiene and health assistance, including reproductive health, family planning and maternal health services. Additionally, information on whether local civil society organizations, particularly women’s civil society, were consulted in the design and implementation of delivery mechanisms for humanitarian assistance would have been desirable.[12]


Human Rights

Drawing upon the jointly-issued report “The state of human rights in the protracted conflict in South Sudan”[13] by UNMISS and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and recognizing the increase in women’s human rights violations, including sexual violence, rape, gang rape, domestic violence and abductions, the report should have detailed whether protection measures in and around PoC sites will be extended, particularly by ensuring that women are part of the design and implementation of early-warning mechanisms. Moreover, the report could have mentioned whether women representatives will be consulted in the UNHCHR’s assessment of allegations of human rights violations and abuses to ensure that the report will be reflective of local women’s experiences.[14] Ideally, the report would have further detailed whether there are specific reporting mechanisms for SGBV available, how they are presented and available to the public and how women can access them. The success of reporting and investigation instruments for SGBV critically depends on the provision of easily accessible mechanisms, including physical safe zones staffed with female personnel where the survivors’ integrity is respected, including through assuring that no action will be taken without their consent.


Ideal Asks for WPS Transformation


Pursuant to resolution 2252 (2015) on the mandate of UNMISS, particularly OP 8(a)(i), (v), (vi); (b)(i),(ii), (iii) on the protection of civilians mandate, which calls for specific protection provisions for women, including the deployment of Women Protection Advisors, and the implementation of reporting, monitoring and investigation mechanisms for sexual violence, as well as OP 14 on mainstreaming gender throughout the mandate, future reports by the Secretary-General must reflect the Security Council’s commitment to the WPS agenda and provide updates on the implementation of gender-sensitive programming regarding both participation and protection concerns. Applying a gender lens throughout the report will ensure that all genders are adequately represented and their particular needs in regards to the severe security, political and humanitarian situation are being met.


[1] S/2016/138, para. 34, 38, 40, 41, 48

[2] S/2016/138, para. 29

[3] S/2016/138, para. 30

[4] S/2016/138, para. 33

[5] S/2016/138, para. 36, 40, 41

[6] S/2016/138, para. 62

[7] S/2016/138, para. 49

[8] S/2015/902, para. 25

[9] S/2016/138, para. 29

[10] S/2016/138, para. 30, 34

[11] S/2016/138, para. 37, 52

[12] S/2016/138, para. 50f

[13] S/2016/138, para. 38

[14] S/2016/138, para. 46