Press statement on the situation of peace, security and gender equality in South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
28 August 2014
Gordon Institute of Business Science
Issued by the Human Rights Institute of South Africa
As we celebrate the women’s month, we observe with serious concern the slow implementation of the African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) peace and security mechanisms in armed conflict countries, especially in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). One of the important instruments is the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which is 14 years in existence, but its implementation has been staggering at national, regional and international levels. The aim of this resolution is to ensure women’s participation in the conceptualisation, negotiation and mediation in the peace process.
The Cessation of Hostilities Agreement signed in January 2014, was not observed, and the insurgency continued unabated. This has resulted in people being displaced, as the United Nations report (2014) states, 1.1 million people are internally displaced, with 405,000 displaced in neighbouring countries. Most of these displaced are women and children. Two more peace agreements were signed between February and June 2014, however, none of these brought sustainable solutions. The fourth peace agreement subsequently signed in August 2014 states that there should be formation of a unity government in 45 days, this is yet to be respected by both warring groups.
The findings from South Sudan are that as the peace process is staggering, conflict and humanitarian crisis escalates, women and children suffer the most, through increased famine, internal displacement, and lack of access to health and education services among other critical services, torture, mass killings and rape. These suppress human rights, and the situation is devastating in areas such as the Blue Nile, Nuba mountains and Malakal. This becomes a challenge to peace process. In DRC, the situation is so terrible that women can’t exercise their rights to access basic necessities and livelihood, they face life threatening risk, abduction, rape, which is used as a weapon of war especially when they go out to fetch water and firewood in the forest. They also experience severe taxes imposed each time they cross the border between DRC and Rwanda to sell their goods.
Our recommendations include ending the war permanently and the implementation of the fourth signed peace agreement.
Regional institutions specifically IGAD and the AU should continue to put pressure on all concerned parties in the conflict in South Sudan to sign an immediate ceasefire, which should be binding, and to punish those who do not abide by the agreements. Furthermore, there is a need to engage on a national healing and reconciliation process, and the invitation of Emeritus Arch-Bishop Tutu to work with South Sudan Churches is highly welcomed by South Sudanese stakeholders we engaged. As well as for the South African government through the embassy in South Sudan to have outreach programmes and stakeholder consultations on the ground.
There is urgent need for rigorous capacity building of women’s CSOs, across South Sudan. Programmes should be established on Long term for CSO to deliver their oversight functions and contribute to the peace process and be part of the decision making so that they claim ownership of the process as they have been compromised by the armed conflict.
The fact that there is no media coverage on the conflict in DRC and in South Sudan, implies that atrocities continued unreported. Therefore media should cover DRC and South Sudan conflict extensively. There is limited media coverage, especially international media houses.
It is important to include women as lead mediators and negotiators in the peace process. The appointment of Dr. Binta Diop as AU’s gender and conflict special envoy is a positive step, and more women should be given the opportunity to serve as lead mediators and negotiators.
It is therefore urgent to popularize the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and other mechanisms to put pressure on Pan African and global leaders for the implementation these UN and AU peace, security and gender equality protocols.
Litlhare Rabele: 0838819095, firstname.lastname@example.org