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Security Council adjusts mandate of UN mission in South Sudan to deter sexual violence, monitor hate speech

16 December 2016 – Approving a one-year extension of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, the Security Council today demanded an end to the fighting in the war-riven country, and decided that the mission, known as UNMISS, shall "use all necessary means" to "deter and prevent" sexual violence within its capacity, and "monitor, investigate and report incidents of hate speech."

Through a unanimously adopted resolution, the Security Council extended the mandate of UNMISS through 15 December 2017, maintaining its core functions, while also maintaining a troop ceiling of 17,000, including a 4,000-strong Regional Protection Force (approved in mid-August), and increasing the police ceiling to 2,101 police personnel, and 78 corrections officers, and requesting the Secretary-General "to take the necessary steps to expedite force and asset generation."

South Sudan has faced ongoing challenges since a political face-off between President Salva Kiir and his Vice-President Riek Machar erupted into full blown conflict in December 2013. The crisis has produced one of the world's worst displacement situations with immense suffering for civilians.

Despite the August 2015 peace agreement that formally ended the war, conflict and instability have also spread to previously unaffected areas in the Greater Equatoria and Greater Bahr-El-Ghazal regions of South Sudan.

Through the text adopted today, the Council reiterated its increasingly grave alarm and concern regarding the political, security, economic and humanitarian crisis in South Sudan resulting from a political dispute within the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and subsequent violence caused by the country's political and military leaders. It also expressed its intention to consider sanctions against those whose actions undermined peace, stability and security in the country.

The Council demanded that South Sudan's leaders implement the permanent ceasefire declared in the peace agreement and respective ceasefires, but also expressed grave concern at the findings of the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict [Zainab Hawa Bangura] of the systematic and widespread use of sexual violence as a tactic by parties against the civilian population, particularly against the country's women and girls.

To this end, the Council decided that UNMISS would "use all necessary means" to deter and prevent sexual and gender-based violence within its capacity and areas of deployment, and "monitor, investigate, verify and report specifically and publicly on violations and abuses committed against children and women."

Further expressing deep concern at the possibility that what began as a political conflict could transform into an outright ethnic war, as noted by the Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, the Council condemned the use of media to broadcast hate speech and transmit messages instigating violence against a particular ethnic group, a practice that has the potential to play a significant role in promoting mass violence."

As such, in today's resolution, the Council tasked UNMISS with monitoring, investigating and reporting on incidents of hate speech and incitement to violence in cooperation with the UN Special Adviser.

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