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South Sudan crisis
South Sudan crisis
RESEARCH PAPER SERIES 2014-15 UPDATED 17 APRIL 2015
South Sudan crisis Nicole Brangwin
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security Section
This paper provides an update on the crisis in South Sudan and replaces the previous Research Paper, which was released in April 2014.
Executive summary â¢ In mid-December 2013, the newly formed country of South Sudan erupted into violence, creating a significant humanitarian crisis.
â¢ Violence spread rapidly across the country, mainly along ethnic lines, and thousands were killed.
â¢ The United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) came under attack with two Indian peacekeepers killed.
â¢ The UN Security Council adopted a resolution on 24 December 2013 to significantly increase the military and police contribution to UNMISS.
â¢ Australia contributes military personnel (and previously policing personnel) to UNMISS and provided additional support through strategic airlift operations during the initial stages of the crisis.
â¢ Despite a peace agreement being reached on 23 January 2014, which included terms for a ceasefire, the violence continues.
â¢ In the last year, the number of internally displaced people has risen from 709,000 to 1.5 million and those who have sought refuge in neighbouring countries increased from 249,000 to 646,883.
â¢ Peace negotiations, backed by the United Nations (UN) and the African Union are ongoing, but are yet to produce a sustainable solution to the crisis.
â¢ In February 2015, an agreement was reached to establish a transitional unity government—however, efforts to progress beyond this point have been continually frustrated by parties on both sides of the conflict.
â¢ The UN Security Council has threatened to impose sanctions unless progress is made towards establishing the transitional unity government by the 9 July 2015 deadline.
Executive summary ..................................................................................... 1
Historical background .................................................................................. 3
Country profile ............................................................................................ 5
Lead-up to the December 2013 crisis ............................................................ 5
The crisis ..................................................................................................... 6
Negotiations continue more than one year on… ........................................... 8
Protection of civilians ....................................................................................... 8
AU Commission of Inquiry ................................................................................ 9
Transitional government or sanctions? .......................................................... 10
Worsening humanitarian situation ................................................................ 11
Expanded mediation mission ......................................................................... 11
Australia’s involvement in South Sudan ...................................................... 12
Diplomacy ....................................................................................................... 12
Community ..................................................................................................... 12
Aid .................................................................................................................. 13
Military ........................................................................................................... 13
Policing ........................................................................................................... 13
Australian support during the initial crisis ................................................... 14
Conclusion ................................................................................................. 14
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Source: United Nations1
Historical background The Sudan conflict has been one of the longest running in contemporary African history. Prior to Sudan’s independence in 1955, the United Kingdom and Egypt shared separate administrative arrangements over the north and south under the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium (1899-1955).2 However, before Sudan managed to achieve independence, conflict had already broken out between the north and south.3
It took until 1972 for the main parties to the conflict—the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Sudan and the Southern Sudan Liberation Movement (SSLM)—to reach a tentative peace agreement. The Addis Ababa Agreement allowed for the regional self-government of Sudan’s southern provinces, which effectively ended hostilities, albeit temporarily.4
In 1983, the Addis Ababa Agreement was abandoned as violence again erupted between the north and south, due to disputes over ‘resources, power, the role of religion in the state and self-determination’.5 By 1993, the Heads of State of the Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD—which became the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in 1996) for the East African region began a protracted peace process that would eventually bring the main parties to the conflict together for talks.6 However, this was not
1. Department of Field Support, Cartographic Section, ‘South Sudan‘, United Nations (UN) website, accessed 13 April 2015. 2. EncyclopÃ¦dia Britannica, ‘Anglo-Egyptian Condominium‘, Britannica Academic Edition, online resource, accessed 13 April 2015. 3. UN, ‘United Nations in South Sudan‘, UN Press Centre website, accessed 13 April 2015; United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), ‘The background to Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement‘, UNMIS website, accessed 13 April 2015.
4. UN, ‘The Addis Ababa Agreement on the problem of South Sudan‘, UN website, accessed 13 April 2015. 5. UNMIS, ‘The background to Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement’, op. cit. 6. UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), ‘Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)‘, UNHCR website, accessed 13 April 2015.
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fully achieved until 9 January 2005 when the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed between leaders of the north and south.7
The CPA acknowledged ‘that the conflict in the Sudan [was] the longest running conflict in Africa’ and there was an ‘urgent need to bring peace and security to the people of the Sudan’.8 Under the CPA, parties agreed to a permanent ceasefire, to form an interim national unity government, and for the people of southern Sudan to ‘determine their future status’ via a referendum within six years.9
While a peace agreement had been reached between the north and the south, tensions among factions in the south threatened to destabilise the peace process. In April 2005 at a conference in Nairobi, Dr John Garang (signatory to the CPA and Chairman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A)) called for south Sudanese factions (involving up to 20 armed groups) to ‘put aside their differences and reconcile’.10 He appealed for dialogue rather than violence to ensure that the benefits of the CPA ‘are enjoyed by all Sudanese for a long time’.11 Garang emphasised that ‘this is a rare opportunity to create greater unity of our people’.12 The conference acknowledged that past disagreements among southern Sudanese leaders had created ‘many splinter groups, several of them supported by the Khartoum government’, which led to ‘divisions, tribalism and a breakdown of law and order’.13
In September 2005, an interim government of national unity was formed in Sudan with the swearing in of new cabinet ministers. Out of 29 ministerial positions, 16 remained with Sudanese President Omar al Bashir’s National Congress Party (NCP), nine went to the SPLM/A members and four positions ‘were divided among various other political parties in accordance with the wealth and power sharing quotas agreed to under the [CPA]’.14 Dr John Garang was expected to be the First Vice-President of Sudan’s national unity government, however, he was killed in a helicopter crash in July 2005. Garang’s death temporarily delayed the formation of government and Salva Kiir took up the role of First Vice-President of Sudan’s national unity government.15
Following a six year transition period, the peace process culminated in a referendum for the southern Sudanese with 98.83 per cent of the population voting for independence from Sudan. On 9 July 2011, South Sudan became the world’s newest nation with Salva Kiir (an ethnic Dinka) as South Sudan’s first President, Riek Machar (an ethnic Nuer) as its Vice-President and the national army referred to as the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).16
To develop and support the peace and security of the fledgling nation, the UN Security Council established the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) in July 2011.17
However, underlying tensions among political and ethnic communities that were suppressed during the six-year transition period began to re-surface, particularly in the resource-rich areas of Jonglei State and Unity State.18
7. First Vice President of the Republic of the Sudan, H.E. Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, and Chairman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLM/A), Dr John Garang de Mabior respectively: UNMIS, ‘The comprehensive peace agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Sudan People’s Liberation Army‘, UNMIS website, 9 January 2005, accessed 13 April 2015. 8. Ibid., p. xi.
9. Ibid., pp. xi, 2, 8.
10. UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), ‘Sudan: Garang urges southern factions to reconcile‘, IRIN news service, OCHA website, 20 April 2005, accessed 13 April 2015. 11. Ibid.
12. J Garang, Chairman of the SPLM/A, quoted in OCHA, ‘Sudan: Garang urges southern factions to reconcile’, op. cit. 13. OCHA, ‘Sudan: Garang urges southern factions to reconcile’, op. cit. 14. OCHA, ‘Sudan: President swears in new government of national unity‘, IRIN news service, OCHA website, 22 September 2005, accessed 13 April 2015. 15. Ibid.
16. UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), ‘UNMISS background‘, UNMISS website, accessed 13 April 2015; UN Security Council (UNSC), ‘Like any newborn, South Sudan needs help’, Secretary-General says, moments after Security Council recommends country’s admission to United Nations, media release, SC/10323, 13 July 2011, accessed 13 April 2015; Government of the Republic of South Sudan (GOSS), ‘The military‘, GOSS website [old], accessed 27 March 2014; GOSS, ‘Defence and Veterans Affairs‘, GOSS website [new], accessed 13 April 2015. 17. UNMISS, ‘Protecting civilians, monitoring human rights and supporting implementation of cessation of hostilities agreement‘, UNMISS
website, accessed 13 April 2015; UNSC, ‘South Sudan: Resolution 1996 (2011)‘, S/RES/1996 (2011), UNSC Resolution, 8 July 2011, accessed 13 April 2015. 18. International Crisis Group (ICG), ‘South Sudan: compounding instability in Unity State‘, Africa Report No. 179, 17 October 2011, pp. 1 and 27, accessed 13 April 2015.
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Due to the new nation’s violent history and complex ethnic diversity, many predicted political instability would eventually deteriorate into civil unrest.19
Country profile The Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook identifies around 18 different major ethnic groups in South Sudan, with Dinka listed as the most common group (35.8%) followed by Nuer (15.6%).20 The country is divided into 10 administrative states, which are governed by representatives appointed by the National Government.21 During the 1983-2005 civil war, many of these ethnic groups fought together to oppose the north. But now that South Sudan has achieved independence, its complex network of ethnic groups presents a challenge to unifying the nation.22
South Sudan is rich in natural resources, particularly oil. However, as a landlocked country, South Sudan is dependent on pipelines running through Sudan to export its oil. According to the World Factbook, at:
…independence in 2011, South Sudan produced nearly three-fourths of former Sudan’s total oil output of nearly a half million barrels per day. The government of South Sudan derives nearly 98% of its budget revenues from oil. Oil is exported through two pipelines that run to refineries and shipping facilities at Port Sudan on the Red Sea. The economy of South Sudan will remain linked to Sudan for some time, given the long lead time and great expense required to build another pipeline, should the government decide to do so. In January 2012 South Sudan suspended production of oil because of its dispute with Sudan over trans-shipment fees. This suspension lasted fifteen months and had a devastating impact on GDP, which declined by 48% in 2012. With the resumption of oil flows the economy rebounded strongly during the second half of calendar year 2013. This occurred in spite of the fact that oil production, at an average level of 222,000 barrels per day, was 40% lower compared with 2011, prior to the shutdown. GDP is estimated to have grown by about 25% in 2014. However, the outbreak of conflict on December 15, 2013 combined with a further reduction of oil exports, means that GDP growth forecasts for 2014 are being revised downwards again, and poverty and food insecurity are rising.
The Government of South Sudan states that it ‘is keen to cultivate and nurture a conducive investment environment in the country’ and has instituted strategies to encourage investment.24 However, given the decades of civil war, the government is faced with the challenge of starting ‘from scratch. The road network, housing, banking sector, insurance, schools and other amenities in the huge country all need urgent attention and the focus is on the donor community, the government, and above all, commercial investors’.25
Lead-up to the December 2013 crisis In March 2013, the political party of President Kiir, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), held a meeting and ‘produced a new draft [party] constitution and manifesto for review by the party’s National Liberation Council’.26 According to the UN Secretary-General’s June 2013 report to the UN Security Council, these discussions led to ‘debate on the party’s leadership’.27 The report also mentions that in April, ‘the President issued a republican order withdrawing the executive powers delegated to the Vice-President’ and that the Vice-President’s responsibilities would be limited under the Constitution. 28
19. Ibid.; J Madut Jok, ‘Diversity, unity, and national building in South Sudan‘, United States Institute of Peace, Special Report, 287, October 2011, p. 2, accessed 13 April 2015. 20. These figures were obtained in 2011. Other major ethnic groups include Shilluk, Azande, Bari, Kakwa, Kuku, Murle, Mandari, Didinga, Ndogo, Bviri, Lndi, Anuak, Bongo, Lango, Dungotona and Acholi: Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), ‘South Sudan‘, CIA World Factbook website,
accessed 13 April 2015. 21. Ibid; GOSS, ‘States‘, GOSS website [old], accessed 27 March 2014; GOSS, ‘States‘, GOSS website [new], accessed 13 April 2015. 22. ICG, ‘South Sudan: compounding instability in Unity State’, op. cit., p. 27; J Madut Jok, ‘Diversity, unity, and national building in South Sudan’, op. cit. 23. CIA, ‘South Sudan’, op. cit., and UN Security Council (UNSC), ‘Report of the Secretary-General on South Sudan‘, S/2013/651, 8 November
2013, p. 4, accessed 13 April 2015. 24. GOSS, ‘Investing in South Sudan‘, GOSS website [old], accessed 27 March 2014; GOSS, ‘Information for investors‘, GOSS website [new], accessed 13 April 2015. 25. Ibid.
26. UNSC, ‘Report of the Secretary-General on South Sudan‘, S/2013/366, 20 June 2013, p. 2, accessed 13 April 2015. 27. Ibid.
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On 23 July 2013, President Kiir dismissed Vice-President Riek Machar, along with the national cabinet, and removed 17 high-ranking police officers from service.29 Kiir also suspended the SPLM’s Secretary-General and placed him under investigation for ‘alleged mismanagement of the party’s affairs and incitement to violence’.30 A new cabinet was installed that included only five members from the previous cabinet. The country’s ten state governors were also directed to decrease the size of their governments.31 Arguably, these political changes set the scene for the crisis that was to unfold.
In August 2013, the UN Security Council ‘expressed grave concern over the increased occurrence of conflict and violence’ in South Sudan’s Jonglei State, an area commonly considered a flashpoint in ethnic tensions.32 At that time, reports had emerged of civilians being attacked and humanitarian aid looted, which resulted in ‘large-scale displacements of the civilian population’.33 UNMISS investigated ‘multiple incidents alleged to have occurred in Jonglei State between December 2012 and August 2013’ and other reports of killing and looting across the country.34 The allegations involved security forces and armed groups loyal to militia leader David Yau Yau.35
In early December 2013, a senior UN representative, Kyung-wha Kang, reported the findings of her visit to South Sudan to the UN.36 Kang referred to the humanitarian situation as a crisis, noting that ongoing fighting in many regions, coupled with seasonal floods, prevented much-needed aid from reaching those in need. Ongoing discussions were taking place, brokered by UN and African Union (AU) representatives, with militia leaders such as David Yau Yau to facilitate the movement of humanitarian aid. Kang warned, however, that the long-term violence reported in Jonglei State could escalate during the dry season.37
The crisis Tensions erupted in mid-December 2013 when fighting broke out in the capital Juba following a political dispute. The Government of South Sudan announced ten people had been arrested in relation to an alleged failed coup attempt. 38 However, other sources have questioned the validity of this claim.39
In a press statement of 17 December 2013, the Government named Dr Riek Machar as the leader of the alleged failed coup, and stated that he was still at large along with four other members of his group.40 Those arrested and those still at large were publicly named by the Government. President Kiir was eager to reassure the public that the violence was not due to ethnic tensions and reportedly held meetings with Nuer leaders and elders in an effort to:
… clarify the misleading information that Nuer as a tribe is being targeted … The composition of the people involved dismisses this rumour … these people are from various states of South Sudan with only one of them from the Nuer tribe … this should be seen as a coup attempt by a group of people not a tribe. 41
The Government continued to call for calm and reiterated that the recent unrest was not due to an escalation in Dinka and Nuer tensions.42 Nonetheless, independent reports suggested the violence continued to escalate along ethnic lines.43 At that time, Human Rights Watch’s research team on the ground in South Sudan released reports about widespread killing based on ethnicity.44
29. UNSC, ‘Report of the Secretary-General on South Sudan’, S/2013/651, op. cit., p. 1. 30. Ibid.
32. UNSC, Security Council press statement on Jonglei, South Sudan, media release, SC/11103, 23 August 2013, accessed 13 April 2015. 33. Ibid.
34. UNSC, ‘Report of the Secretary-General on South Sudan’, S/2013/651, op. cit., p. 10. 35. David Yau Yau was a former SPLA Colonel who rebelled after failing to win a seat in Parliament: M Namiti, ‘Analysis: struggle for power in South Sudan‘, Al Jazeera, 21 December 2013, accessed 13 April 2015; ibid. 36. UN, Press conference on humanitarian situation in South Sudan, media release, 4 December 2013, accessed 13 April 2015. 37. Ibid.
38. GOSS, President Kiir declares curfew in Juba, media release, GOSS website [old], 16 December 2013, accessed 28 March 2014; GOSS, Ten arrested over failed coup attempt, media release, GOSS website [old], 17 December 2013, accessed 28 March 2014. 39. Editorial, ‘US official dismisses alleged failed “coup” in South Sudan‘, Sudan Tribune, 9 January 2014, accessed 13 April 2015; J Munive, ‘South Sudan: attempted coup or politics as usual?‘, African Arguments, 18 December 2013, accessed 13 April 2015. 40. GOSS, Ten arrested over failed coup attempt, op. cit. 41. Ibid.
43. Human Rights Watch, ‘South Sudan: ethnic targeting, widespread killings‘, Refworld website, 16 January 2014, accessed 13 April 2015. 44. Ibid.
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On 17 December 2013, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, HervÃ© Ladsous, advised UN Security Council members that up to ‘400-500 people may have been killed and 600-800 wounded’ during the initial violence.45
The situation worsened on 19 December 2013 when around 2,000 heavily armed ethnic Nuer attacked an UNMISS compound in Akobo, Jonglei State, killing 20 ethnic Dinka civilians who were seeking UN protection, as well as two Indian peacekeepers.46
In response to the escalating violence and the threat of further attacks on UN compounds, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution to temporarily increase the ‘overall force levels of UNMISS to support its protection of civilians and provision of humanitarian assistance’.47 UNMISS’s military component was increased by 5,500 to 12,500 and the police component increased by 440 to 1323.48 By 26 December 2013, plans were fully underway to bolster UNMISS with additional personnel and assets. While the exact number of civilian deaths could not be ascertained at that time, the UN estimated that more than a thousand people had been killed.49
The UN and AU supported the Intergovernmental Authority on Development’s (IGAD’s) attempts to broker peace talks between the parties to the conflict, which lead to talks eventually being held in Ethiopia in January 2014.50 Consequently, an agreement was reached on 23 January 2014 to end hostilities in South Sudan (Cessation of Hostilities (CoH) Agreement) and negotiate the release of detained political leaders.51 While the agreement resulted in the release of some political leaders from detention, the violence perpetrated by all parties to the conflict continued unabated.52
On 21 February 2014, the Human Rights Division of UNMISS released an interim report on the human rights situation in South Sudan. 53 The report provided a detailed description of events between 15 December 2013 and 31 January 2014, determining that all parties to the conflict engaged in:
… deliberate targeting of civilians, both nationals and foreigners, in extrajudicial and other unlawful killings, including mass killings, enforced disappearances, gender-based violence, such as rapes and gang-rapes, and instances of ill-treatment and torture by forces from both sides of the conflict.
The effect on the human rights situation has been profound. Fighting between opposing armed groups took on ethnic dimensions and while some civilians were caught in the cross-fire, others were deliberately targeted along ethnic lines. A vicious cycle of retaliatory and revenge killings ensued. The number killed remains unknown, although it is likely in the thousands.
On 20 March 2014, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released its latest report on the situation in South Sudan. The report estimated that 4.9 million people were still in need of humanitarian assistance, with around 709,000 of them internally displaced, and a further 249,000 living as refugees in neighbouring countries (Kenya, Sudan and Uganda).55
45. Security Council Report, ‘January 2014 Monthly forecast: Sudan and South Sudan‘, SCR website, 20 December 2013, accessed 13 April 2015. 46. UN News Centre, UN mission in South Sudan mourns fallen peacekeepers, media release, 21 December 2013, accessed 13 April 2015. 47. UNSC, ‘South Sudan: Resolution 2132 (2013)‘, S/RES/2132 (2013), 24 December 2013, accessed 13 April 2015. 48. Ibid.
49. J Hilde (Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of UNMISS), ‘Press conference on the situation in South Sudan‘, transcript, 26 December 2013, accessed 13 April 2015. 50. African Union , The African Union welcomes the signing of agreements to end hostilities in South Sudan, media release, 23 January 2014, accessed 13 April 2015; UNSC, Security Council press statement on cessation of hostilities agreement in South Sudan, media release,
SC/11261, AFR/2802, 23 January 2014, accessed 13 April 2015. 51. Ibid.
52. UNSC, Security Council press statement on South Sudan, media release, SC/11278, AFR/2816, 13 February 2014, accessed 13 April 2015. 53. UNMISS Human Rights Division, ‘Interim report on human rights: crisis in South Sudan‘, UNMISS, 21 February 2014, pp. 5-6, accessed 13 April 2015. 54. Ibid., pp. 5-6. 55. OCHA, ‘South Sudan crisis situation report no. 28‘, 20 March 2014, accessed 13 April 2015. The Reliefweb website also provides up to date
reports on South Sudan from the International Organization for Migration, World Health Organization and UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
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By mid-March 2014, the situation in South Sudan had not improved. The head of peacekeeping operations, Under-Secretary-General HervÃ© Ladsous, described the situation as ‘grave’ and advised the UN Security Council at a meeting on 18 March 2014 that UNMISS:
… would suspend its current activities and re-focus on five priority areas … protecting civilians, facilitating humanitarian assistance, monitoring and reporting on human rights, preventing further inter-communal violence and supporting the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) [mediation] process as and when requested, and within available capabilities.
During the meeting, it was noted that anti-UNMISS protests were occurring across the country due to perceptions by the local population that the UN was supporting ‘the other side of the conflict’.57 Ladsous stated that a ‘systematic and organized [sic] negative campaign against UNMISS’ by ‘some local and national officials’ had vilified the UN.58 As such, the UN Secretary-General asked the UN Security Council to ‘augment the military and police components of UNMISS for one year, beyond the inter-mission cooperation framework’.59 The deployment of additional military and police personnel, under UN Security Council Resolution 3132 (24 December 2013), would occur in phases with around 2,800 military personnel and three mobile police units expected to be on the ground supporting UNMISS by June 2014.60
Negotiations continue more than one year on… To date, the ongoing IGAD-led peace negotiations have had minimal (if any) positive impact on the people of South Sudan who continue to endure repeated violations of the 23 January 2014 CoH agreement.61
Protection of civilians The UNMISS human rights report was released in May 2014 and claimed ‘there are reasonable grounds to believe that violations of international human rights and humanitarian law have been committed by both parties to the conflict’.62 The report provided specific details about:
…extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, rape and other acts of sexual violence, arbitrary arrests and detention, targeted attacks against civilians not taking part in hostilities, violence aimed at spreading terror among the civilian population, and attacks on hospitals as well as personnel and objects involved in a peacekeeping mission.
While the UNMISS human rights report provided detailed evidence about civilian deaths, the report did not include an overall estimation of the number of casualties that had resulted from the violence. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies Armed Conflict Database, the number of civilian and military fatalities in South Sudan in 2013 was around 2,235. The following year this number had reached an estimated 12,333.64
On 9 May 2014, an Agreement to resolve the crisis in South Sudan was signed by President Kiir (Republic of South Sudan) and Riek Machar (SPLM/A-in opposition), which agreed to rededicate the 23 January 2014 CoH agreement within 24 hours and commence negotiations towards establishing a Transitional Government of National Unity.65 Under Resolution 2155 (2014), the UN Security Council endorsed the May 2014 Agreement and
56. UNSC, United Nations Mission in South Sudan to suspend current activities, re-focus priorities, peacekeeping chief tells Security Council, media release, SC/11323, 18 March 2014, accessed 13 April 2015. 57. Ibid.
61. The IGAD Office of the Special Envoys for South Sudan regularly monitors and reports the number of CoH agreement violations perpetrated by both parties to the agreement. The month of February 2015 showed up to 31 reported violations. Cited in IGAD Office of the Special Envoys of South Sudan, ‘Summary of latest reports of violations of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement of 23 January 2014‘, IGAD, 2015, accessed 13 April 2015. 62. UNMISS, ‘Conflict in South Sudan: A human rights report‘, UNMISS, 8 May 2014, p. 3, accessed 13 April 2015. 63. Ibid., p. 3. 64. The Armed Conflict Database [accessed via restricted subscription] notes: ‘Fatality statistics relate to military and civilian lives lost as a direct
result of an armed conflict. The figures relate to the country of the main location of conflict. For some conflicts no reliable statistics are available. Estimates of conflict fatalities often vary considerably according to the source. In some cases, overall fatality figures are revised in light of new information. Changes in fatality figures may therefore occur both as a result of such revisions and due to an increase in fatalities’. 65. Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), ‘Agreement to Resolve the Crisis in South Sudan‘, Addis Ababa, 9 May 2014, accessed
13 April 2015.
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renewed the Chapter VII mandate for UNMISS to use all necessary means to protect civilians, regardless of the source of the violence.66 Resolution 2155 reinforced the need for UNMISS to continue monitoring and investigating human rights violations and confirmed the strength of the UNMISS force was to remain at around 12,500 military and 1,323 police.67 As at 28 February 2015, the strength of UNMISS totalled 11,669 uniformed personnel: 10,483 military, 178 military liaison officers and 1,008 police, of which 35 have been killed (16 military, one police, five international civilians, six local civilians and seven others).68 UNMISS are currently protecting around 112,590 civilians at six Protection of Civilian sites.69
AU Commission of Inquiry In June 2014, the AU’s Commission of Inquiry into human rights violations in South Sudan released an interim report that noted a ‘March 2014 decision of the IGAD Head of States to deploy a regional force’ known as the Monitoring and Verification Teams (MVTs).70 The report advocated the deployment of an IGAD regional protection force as part of UNMISS.71 The IGAD regional protection force is made up of military personnel from African states, with Ethiopia providing the first contingent in June 2014. Kenya, the Republic of Djibouti and Rwanda also contribute to the force, strengthening UNMISS. 72
The interim report illustrated the Commission of Inquiry’s focus on reconciliation and healing and stated that while the initial intensity of violence at the start of the crisis ‘is no longer manifest’, violence is still widespread and tensions remain. These tensions are believed to be attributed to survivor’s:
…survivors experience with violence; the ever-present threat of violence due to the posture of the warring parties and ineffective measures to guarantee safety of all, including vulnerable groups; ethnic animosity arising out of historical grievances and the manner in which violence has manifested due to instrumentalization of ethnicity and; the delay in reaching comprehensive political settlement in the on-going mediation process.
After consideration of the interim report, the AU endorsed the Commission’s recommendations and decided to extend the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry for an additional three months to allow the Commission to complete its work.74
On 29 January 2015, the AU’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) held a meeting on the situation in South Sudan. 75 The PSC’s communiquÃ© described the humanitarian situation as ‘catastrophic’ and expressed its disappointment with the parties to the conflict for failing to resolve the conflict. The PSC warned that if progress was not made by the parties to the conflict to commit to the CoH Agreement and make credible efforts to form a Transitional Government of National Unity by the end of January 2015, sanctions might be imposed.76
In its communiquÃ© the PSC also acknowledged the completion of the final report of the AU’s Commission of Inquiry, but decided not to release it and deferred consideration of the final report to a later date.77 At the time of writing, the report had not been released, despite reports of a ‘leaked’ copy being circulated.78 The PSC’s decision not to release the report is believed to be based on concerns that the already unstable peace
66. UNSC, ‘South Sudan: Resolution 2155 (2014)‘, S/RES/2155 (2014), 27 May 2014, accessed 13 April 2015. 67. Ibid.
68. UNMISS, ‘UNMISS facts and figures‘, UNMISS website, accessed 13 April 2015. 69. UNMISS, ‘UNMISS PoC update no. 67‘, Reliefweb website, 2 April 2015, accessed 13 April 2015. 70. African Union, ‘Interim report of the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan (CISS)‘, Assembly of the Union, Assembly/AU/19(XXIII), 26-27 June 2014, p. 3, accessed 13 April 2015. 71. Ibid.
72. Office of the IGAD Special Envoys for South Sudan, IGAD monitoring and verification mechanism, media release, 2014, accessed 13 April 2015. 73. Ibid., p. 3. 74. African Union, ‘Decision on the Interim Report of the African Union Commission on South Sudan‘, Assembly of the Union,
Assembly/AU/Dec.535(XXIII), 26-27 June 2014, accessed 13 April 2015. 75. African Union, ‘CommuniquÃ©‘, Peace and Security Council 484th meeting at the level of Heads of State and Government, Addis Ababa, PSC/AHG/COMM.1(CDLXXXIV), 29 January 2015, accessed 13 April 2015. 76. Ibid.
78. African Union, Report of the AU Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan not yet released—AU Commission chairperson reassures public, media release, 16 March 2015, accessed 13 April 2015.
South Sudan crisis 9
negotiation process could be threatened.79 This decision was widely criticised by human rights organisations and the UN Security Council is pressuring the PSC to release the report.80
Transitional government or sanctions? The IGAD-led mediation efforts have been praised by the AU’s PSC.81 However, as UN Security Council resolutions show thus far, ceasefire arrangements originally agreed to on 23 January 2014, and rededicated on 9 May 2014, are yet to take hold. The IGAD continues to mediate the peace talks, with the CoH again rededicated on 9 November 2014.82 The IGAD also sought agreement on 1 February 2015 on Areas of agreement of the establishment of the transitional government of national unity in the Republic of South Sudan, but any meaningful progress on this front seems to have stalled. The deadline for establishing the Transitional Government of National Unity is 9 July 2015, which was expected to be preceded by a pre-transition period of three months. For progress to be made, all outstanding issues pertaining to the conflict, such as a ceasefire, were to be resolved by 5 March 2015.83 This deadline passed without any further progress being made.84
While praised by the AU’s PSC, the work of the IGAD-led mediation process has also been criticised as ineffective due to internal divisions.85 This has prevented the IGAD from pursuing the threat to impose targeted sanctions should progress towards a peaceful settlement not be made.86 Consequently, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2206 on 3 March 2015 establishing a UN sanctions regime on South Sudan.87 While the vote to adopt Resolution 2206 was unanimous, Russia stated that they felt the Council’s ‘decision was hasty’ and that ‘no one should have any illusion that we unconditionally support the implementation of a sanctions regime against South Sudan. Our principled position is well known. We have never felt and do not feel that sanctions are an effective means for achieving a political settlement to a conflict’.88
By 24 March, no further progress had been made prompting the President of the UN Security Council to express disappointment that the parties to the conflict had ‘failed to conclude an agreement’ on transitional government arrangements.89 The President reiterated the Council’s intention to impose sanctions that would include an arms embargo and the designation of certain individuals and entities.90 The South Sudan representative at the UN expressed disappointment at the Council’s decision, stating the views of South Sudan were not reflected in Council documents and sanctions would not achieve the intended outcome: ensuring the parties to the conflict make concrete moves towards peace.91
The US imposed sanctions against South Sudan in April 2014, which includes blocking the property and interests of designated persons.92 The EU imposed their own sanctions in July 2014 prohibiting arms trade with South
79. Editorial, ‘Nuer elders question IGAD’s impartiality in South Sudan conflict‘, Sudan Tribune, 10 February 2015, accessed 13 April 2015. 80. Amnesty International, South Sudan: African Union Peace and Security Council stands in the way of justice in South Sudan, media release, 30 January 2015, accessed 13 April 2015; Human Rights Watch, South Sudan: AU putting justice on hold, media release, 3 February 2015, accessed 13 April 2015; Editorial, ‘Seventy-six organizations call for publication of AU Inquiry Report as deadline for peace passes‘, Sudan
Tribune, 6 March 2015, accessed 13 April 2015; and UNSC, ‘South Sudan: Resolution 2206 (2015)‘, S/RES/2206 (2015), 3 March 2015, accessed 13 April 2015. 81. African Union, ‘CommuniquÃ©’, Peace and Security Council 484th meeting at the level of Heads of State and Government, op. cit. 82. UNSC, ‘South Sudan: Resolution 2187 (2014)‘, S/RES/2187 (2014), 25 November 2014, accessed 13 April 2015. 83. IGAD, South Sudan parties sign areas of agreement on the establishment of the Transitional Government of National Unity, media release, 2 February 2015, accessed 13 April 2015. 84. Office of the IGAD Special Envoys for South Sudan, ‘Message from H.E. Hailemariam Dessalegn, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and Chairperson of the IGAD Assembly to the People of South Sudan‘, 6 March 2015, accessed 13 April 2015. 85. The IGAD-led mediation process is facilitated by three Special Envoys: Ambassador Seyoum Mesfin (Ethiopia), General Lazaro Sumbeiywo (Kenya) and General Mohammed Ahmed Moustafa El Dabi (Sudan). Office of the IGAD Special Envoys for South Sudan, ‘Frequently asked questions‘, IGAD website, accessed 17 April 2015; and Security Council Report, ‘Council to adopt sanctions resolution on South Sudan‘, What’s in Blue, 2 March 2015, accessed 13 April 2015. 86. Ibid.
87. UNSC, ‘South Sudan: Resolution 2206 (2015)’, op. cit. 88. UNSC, ‘Reports of the Secretary-General on the Sudan and South Sudan‘, meeting record, 7396th meeting, New York, S/PV.7396, 3 March 2015, accessed 13 April 2015. 89. UNSC, ‘Statement by the President of the Security Council: South Sudan‘, S/PRST/2015/9, 24 March 2015, accessed 13 April 2015. 90. Ibid.
91. UNSC, ‘Security Council tells parties in South Sudan to issue clear orders against human rights abuses, reach agreement on transitional government arrangements‘, UNSC, meetings coverage, 24 March 2015, accessed 13 April 2015. 92. Government of the United States, ‘South Sudan-related sanctions‘, US Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control, 6 January 2015, accessed 13 April 2015.
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Sudan, targeting persons deemed to be obstructing the peace process and freezing the funds and economic resources of listed persons.93
Worsening humanitarian situation In the meantime, the humanitarian situation in South Sudan is worsening. According to OCHA’s 3 April 2015 situation report, 2.5 million South Sudanese face crisis/emergency levels of food insecurity and around 1.5 million have been internally displaced since the crisis began in December 2013.94 Currently, there are 6.4 million people in need of assistance with malnutrition rates in South Sudan among the highest in the world.95 The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, reports the number of South Sudanese who have sought refuge in neighbouring countries is around 652,871.96
The UN Security Council will consider the sanctions regime against South Sudan and the situation in South Sudan following receipt of the UN Secretary-General’s next report by the end of April 2015, before the expiration of the UNMISS mandate on 30 May 2015.97 Meanwhile, the conflict continues in South Sudan, as do tensions across the border with the Government of Sudan in Khartoum. April 2015 reports claim that Sudanese military aircraft have attacked civilian settlements in the north of South Sudan.98 Concurrently, the political situation in the contested neighbouring flashpoints of Abyei and Darfur remain fragile despite peacekeeping efforts under the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) and the United Nations-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).99
While IGAD-brokered peace negotiations continue to seek resolution in South Sudan, the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee (established under UN Security Council Resolution 2206 (2015)) held its first meeting on 1 April 2015. The Expert Panel that will support the work of the Committee is yet to be established but the Committee has called on Member States to report by 3 June 2015 ‘on the steps they have taken to implement effectively the travel ban and asset freeze’ under Resolution 2206.100
Expanded mediation mission The head of the IGAD-led mediation mission recently acknowledged the failings in mediating the crisis so far and has vowed to consult more widely to find a ‘common plan of action’.101 The AU is in the process of establishing a High-level ad hoc Committee to support the IGAD mission, which will include Heads of State from Algeria, Chad, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Africa.102 However, an attempt to expand the IGAD mission—referred to as IGAD-Plus involving the AU, UN, China and Troika nations (Norway, United Kingdom and the US)—was rejected by the parties to the conflict. A South Sudanese Government spokesperson stated:
We don’t need the Troika countries and the participation of the United Nations in the next IGAD-plus peace mediation because they are the very people and countries demanding sanctions against the people and the government of South Sudan and for that reason the UN Security Council passed the framework and resolution on sanctions based on the Troika recommendation.
The Government of South Sudan’s written statement on 30 March 2015 expressed its commitment to the IGAD-led peace process but objected to ‘“peace-by-force” or “deadlines” because such peace will not be
93. European Commission, ‘Restrictive measures (sanctions) in force (Article 215 TFEU)‘, updated 19 March 2015, pp. 66-67, accessed 13 April 2015. 94. OCHA, ‘South Sudan: Crisis Situation Report No. 81‘, Reliefweb, 3 April 2015, accessed 13 April 2015. 95. Ibid; OCHA, ‘South Sudan: Humanitarian response plan 2015‘, OCHA, 1 December 2014, p. 17, accessed 13 April 2015. 96. UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), ‘South Sudan situation‘, UNHCR website, accessed 13 April 2015. 97. UNSC, ‘Programme of work‘, UNSC website, accessed 13 April 2015. 98. Editorial, ‘Juba accuses Khartoum of bombing towns inside South Sudan‘, Sudan Tribune, 8 April 2015, accessed 13 April 2015; Editorial, ‘Juba
seeks foreign intervention over air attack by Sudan‘, Sudan Tribune, 12 April 2015, accessed 13 April 2015. 99. UNISFA: United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei, ‘Demilitarizing and monitoring peace in the disputed Abyei Area‘, UNISFA website, accessed 13 April 2015 and UNAMID: African Union/United Nations Hybrid operation in Darfur, ‘Protecting civilians, facilitating humanitarian
aid and helping political process in Darfur‘, UNAMID website, accessed 13 April 2015. 100. UNSC, Security Council Committee concerning South Sudan commences work, media release, SC/11848, 1 April 2015, accessed 13 April 2015. 101. Office of the IGAD Special Envoys for South Sudan, ‘Message from H.E. Hailemariam Dessalegn, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and Chairperson of the IGAD Assembly to the People of South Sudan’, op. cit. 102. African Union, ‘Press Statement‘, Peace and Security Council 494th meeting, Addis Ababa, PSC/PR/BR.1(CDXCIV), 24 March 2015, accessed
13 April 2015. 103. Editorial, ‘South Sudan rejects Troika involvement in peace talks‘, Sudan Tribune, 31 March 2015, accessed 13 April 2015.
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sustainable’.104 The statement supported an expanded IGAD that only includes other African states and would only accept non-African actors as observers. The Government also put forward details of its ‘final position’ on power-sharing and wealth sharing arrangements in a seven-point plan.105 The SPLM-in opposition, who are pursuing a federalist approach, were not happy with the Government’s proposals for power-sharing.106 Given the Government’s firm position on how the peace process is expected to proceed and the position of the SPLM-in opposition, the reinvigorated IGAD mediation mission will face significant challenges to progressing discussions towards establishing a transitional unity government. The next round of negotiations is expected to be held sometime in April 2015.
Australia’s involvement in South Sudan Diplomacy Australia supported the referendum on independence for South Sudan by facilitating the participation in the referendum of around 9,200 eligible voters in Australia. On 9 July 2011, Australia recognised the state of South Sudan and established diplomatic relations.107 Australia also implements UN sanctions against Sudan, consistent with guidance from the UN Security Council Committee concerning Sudan, which has confirmed that these particular sanctions do not apply to South Sudan.108
While a member of the UN Security Council, Australia supported every resolution put forward on South Sudan.109 In May 2014, Australia’s representative to the UN, Gary Quinlan, made a statement condemning the scale of atrocities occurring in South Sudan and warned that once the Council has had the opportunity to consider the AU’s Commission of Inquiry report, it ‘will remain open for the Council to consider referring the situation in South Sudan to the International Criminal Court’.110 Quinlan cited the principle of the ‘responsibility to protect’ as the basis for UNMISS’s key role in protecting civilians. He also offered Australia’s support for ‘the Council to consider applying an arms embargo’ as well as ‘financial and travel sanctions against instigators of violence and perpetrators of human rights abuses in South Sudan’.111
At the time of writing this update, Australia had not imposed any autonomous sanctions against South Sudan. 112
Community Sudan-born and South Sudan-born refugees have been resettled in Australia after fleeing drought, famine and war, with arrivals peaking between 2002 and 2007.113 According to data from the 2011 Census, a large proportion of South Sudan-born people living in Australia reside in Victoria. The Census recorded a total of 3,487 South Sudan-born people across Australia, with 1,118 located in Victoria, 715 in Queensland, 561 in New South Wales, 489 in Western Australia, 390 in South Australia, 80 in the Australian Capital Territory, 71 in Tasmania and 62 in the Northern Territory.114 Given the Australian Census data was collected one month after South Sudan gained independence, some of the figures for Sudan-born and South Sudan-born people in Australia might not reflect this change. As such, some of the 19,369 Sudan-born people recorded in the Census might originate from what is now known as South Sudan.115
104. M Lomuro (Minister, Ministry of Cabinet Affairs Republic of South Sudan), The final position of the GRSS on the resolution of the crisis in South Sudan, statement, GOSS website [new], 30 March 2015, accessed 13 April 2015. 105. Ibid. 106. Editorial, ‘South Sudan rebels deny trading federalism with positions‘, Sudan Tribune, 29 March 2015, accessed 13 April 2015. 107. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Annual report 2010-2011, DFAT, Canberra, 2011, pp. 6 and 70, accessed 13 April 2015. 108. DFAT, ‘Sudan‘, DFAT website, accessed 13 April 2015. 109. UNSC, ‘Meeting records‘, UNSC website, accessed 13 April 2015. 110. UNSC, ‘Reports of the Secretary-General on the Sudan and South Sudan‘, meeting record, 7168th meeting, New York, S/PV.7168, 2 May 2014,
accessed 13 April 2015. 111. Ibid. 112. DFAT, ‘Sanctions regimes‘, DFAT website, accessed 13 April 2015. 113. Department of Social Services (DSS), ‘Community information summary: South Sudan-born‘, DSS website, accessed 13 April 2015. 114. Ibid. 115. Ibid.
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Aid South Sudan is a recipient under Australia’s Direct Aid Program (DAP), which provides small grants to progress development objectives.116 Australia also contributes to the World Food Program and aid programs that help children’s education (particularly former child soldiers) and the health of women and children.117
Prior to the recent unrest, there were three Australian Civilian Corps personnel working in-country with the UN and the Government of South Sudan on law and justice issues.118
In August 2014, the Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, announced that Australia would provide an additional $5 million in humanitarian assistance ‘bringing Australia’s contribution to the crisis to over $18 million since the conflict began’.119 In addition, according to Australia’s international development assistance: statistical summary 2013-14, since independence Australia has provided Official Development Assistance (ODA) to South Sudan of just over $23 million in 2011-12, $37.5 million in 2012-13 and more than $24 million in 2013-14.120
Military When the UN Security Council established the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) on 24 March 2005, Australia contributed a contingent of 17 military personnel (six military observers and 11 specialists in air movements, aviation safety and logistics) in support of the mission known as Australian Defence Force (ADF) Operation AZURE.121 Australia also maintained a contribution of eight military personnel to the African Union/United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) under Operation HEDGEROW.122 Following South Sudan’s independence, Australia’s military contribution to UNMIS transitioned to UNMISS under Operation ASLAN on 23 September 2011. Operation HEDGEROW is no longer operational. As at 1 April 2015, the Defence website stated that approximately 25 ADF personnel were deployed on Operation ASLAN.123 Since the crisis began, the role of Australia’s military personnel has not changed and there is no plan to withdraw personnel from the mission at this time. 124
The 2013-14 DFAT Annual Report showed that Australia contributed almost $22 million towards UNMISS in that financial year.125
Policing Similar to the Australian military contribution, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) contributed personnel to UNMIS from 2006, which then transitioned to UNMISS in August 2011. The AFP assisted ‘with development of police training and evaluation programs, and the provision of assistance in the mentoring and training of members of the South Sudan Police Service’.126
The AFP’s Annual Report 2012-13 noted that the in-country contingent of around 10 AFP officers ‘helped establish the Police Women’s Network for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, the success of which has led the United Nations to consider introducing a women’s network into all its missions’.127
The AFP’s contribution to UNMISS ceased in January 2014.128
116. DFAT, ‘Direct Aid Program (DAP)‘, DFAT website, accessed 13 April 2015. 117. R Barber, Y Galarza and E James, ‘The missing years‘, DFAT website, accessed 28 March 2014 [original link no longer available]; DFAT, ‘Maternal neonatal and child health‘, DFAT website, accessed 28 March 2014 [original link no longer available]; DFAT ‘Australia responds to food crisis in Sahel and Sudan‘, DFAT website, accessed 28 March 2014 [original link no longer available].
118. DFAT, ‘Australian Civilian Corps‘, DFAT website, accessed 28 March 2014 [original link no longer available]. 119. J Bishop (Minister for Foreign Affairs), Additional assistance for South Sudan, media release, 17 August 2014, accessed 13 April 2015. 120. Australian Government, Australia’s International Development Assistance: Statistical Summary 2013-14, DFAT, 2015, p.11. 121. UNMIS, ‘UNMIS‘, UNMIS website, accessed 13 April 2015; Department of Defence (Defence), ‘Sudan: Operation AZURE‘, Defence website,
accessed 28 March 2014 [original link no longer available]. 122. Defence, ‘Sudan: Operation Hedgerow‘, Defence website, accessed 28 March 2014 [original link no longer available]. 123. Defence, ‘South Sudan: Operation ASLAN‘, Defence website, accessed 13 April 2015. 124. Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee, Official committee Hansard, 22 October 2014, p. 44, accessed 13 April
125. DFAT, Annual report 2013-14, DFAT, Canberra, 2014, p. 279, accessed 13 April 2015. 126. Australian Federal Police (AFP), Submission to Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee, Inquiry into the Indian Ocean region and Australia’s foreign, trade and defence policy, 2013, p. 3, accessed 13 April 2015. 127. AFP, Annual report 2012-13, AFP, Canberra, 2013, pp. 59 and 217, accessed 13 April 2015. 128. AFP, Annual report 2013-14, AFP, Canberra, 2014, p. 72, accessed 13 April 2015.
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Australian support during the initial crisis On 26 December 2013, in response to the UN Security Council’s Resolution 2132 (24 December 2013), the Australian Government announced additional temporary military support to UNMISS in the form of strategic airlift by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).129
The RAAF completed its final airlift mission on 12 January 2014. In that time, the RAAF conducted eight C-17A Globemaster flights and two C-130J Hercules flights delivering personnel and around 200 tonnes of goods to South Sudan’s capital Juba.130
On 31 January 2014, the Australian Government announced it would provide an additional $3 million to the $40 million it had already pledged towards emergency assistance for South Sudan via the UN’s Common Humanitarian Fund.131
Conclusion Regrettably for the people of South Sudan, the continued lack of progress during peace negotiations has seen the humanitarian situation worsen. The international community’s response so far is to continue supporting the UNMISS mandate and a reinvigorated IGAD-led mediation process while adding weight through the threat of sanctions. With consistent reports of human rights violations from both sides of the conflict—particularly statements about crimes against humanity and the potential for International Criminal Court involvement—and the hardening of positions by both parties involved in the peace negotiation process, resolving the crisis in the short term still seems very distant.
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129. Defence, Defence air-lift support to the United Nations in South Sudan, media release, 26 December 2013, accessed 13 April 2015. 130. Defence, Defence completes airlift mission in South Sudan, media release, 14 January 2014, accessed 13 April 2015. 131. J Bishop (Minister for Foreign Affairs), Australian humanitarian assistance to South Sudan totals $43 million, media release, 31 January 2014, accessed 13 April 2015.
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