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UN: South Sudan peacekeeping mission extended for a year

March 16, 2022

The UN Security Council has extended the stay of its 19,000-strong peacekeeping force in South Sudan for another year. China and Russia abstained but did not block the move.

UN peacekeepers in South Sudan
UNMISS is one of the most well-funded UN operations in the worldImage: Sam Mednick/AP/dpa/picture alliance

The United Nations Security Council has voted to extend the mandate of its peacekeeping mission in South Sudan for one more year, calling for political dialogue to prevent the country from returning to civil war.

The United States-sponsored resolution received 13 votes in the council, with China and Russia choosing to abstain. Under the extension, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) will remain in the world’s newest nation until March 15, 2023.

The current level of deployment — with a troop ceiling at 17,000 and police ceiling at 2,101 — shall be maintained. 

While China indicated that it was in favor of the extension, the country’s deputy UN ambassador, Dai Bing, criticized the US for pushing "for inclusion of many human rights-related texts, resulting in a very unbalanced draft resolution."

Similarly, Russia's deputy ambassador Anna Evstigneeva expressed regret that the resolution "did not duly reflect the positive developments in this young state" and instead "fixated on negative aspects" leaving the text "misbalanced."

Tribulations of a young nation

Under the resolution, the goal of the peacekeeping mission is to "prevent a return to civil war in South Sudan, to build durable peace at the local and national levels, and to support inclusive and accountable governance and free, fair, and peaceful elections."

South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan in 2011, has seen chronic instability in the years that followed. The country saw a bitter civil war between 2013 and 2018, which left nearly 400,000 dead and millions displaced.

A 2018 peace agreement between arch-enemies Riek Machar and Salva Kiir led to a national unity government, which was formally inaugurated in February 2020, with Kiir as president and Machar as vice president.

However, the peace agreement remains largely unimplemented, though the violence has also subsided.

Role of UN peacekeepers

Under its extended mandate, the UN mission's first priority remains the protection of civilians under threat of physical violence. This includes deterring, preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence "within its capacity and areas of deployment."

Talking feminism in South Sudan

UN peacekeepers are also responsible for creating conditions to deliver humanitarian aid, as well as supporting the implementation of the aforementioned peace agreement and peace process. The mandate extends to monitoring, investigating and reporting on human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law.

UNMISS is one of the most expensive UN operations with an annual budget of over $1 billion.

see/msh (AFP, AP)