Statement by Mr. Nicholas Haysom, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, The 5th Governors Forum – South Sudan
Juba, November 23, 2021: It is with great pleasure that I join you at this opening session of the 5th Governors’ Forum under the theme “Role of States and Special Administrative Zones in the implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement for a Prosperous and Prosperous South Sudan ”. This event provides a platform for the leaders of South Sudan to develop mutual priorities for an interconnected and determined government, equipped to advance the search for a lasting peace in South Sudan.
Following the appointment of state governors and other constitutional office holders, UNMISS immediately embarked on a series of interactive dialogues to foster political cohesion and trust among members of coalition state governments.
As a forerunner of this forum, UNMISS facilitated nine Governors Forums in all states except Unity, due to devastating flooding. These events facilitated engagements between state governors and local stakeholders to identify governance-related priorities in their respective states and prepare action plans to implement them.
We are pleased that these Governors’ Forums have led to the creation of a strategic plan for each state, responding to the priorities enshrined in the revitalized Accord. These plans will be presented to you here over the next few days.
We also organized six state leadership retreats around the theme “Building Confidence for United and Inclusive Governments”. Here we have released the revitalized Accord to encourage greater ownership of its priorities. It is important to note that these retreats provided an opportunity for state governments to better appreciate their respective roles and foster synergies at the state level essential for unity.
These activities served as a timely entry point for capacity building, training and general brainstorming. They also offered a formal introduction to newly appointed local office holders. In some states, the mission has applied this approach to county commissioners as well as at the Payam level.
South Sudan is on the cusp of a breakthrough: to become a peaceful, stable and prosperous country for the first time since its independence. But the memory and trauma of the conflict run deep.
Confidence will therefore be essential in forging a united front for national stability. It is the basis for reinventing an inclusive social contract, whereby people can live together in harmony.
When institutions lack sufficient trust, citizens may not cooperate.
But where there is trust, governments and citizens can jointly commit to a common agenda.
I recognize that effective political systems do not come about overnight. It depends on the sustained and collective will of leaders from all sides. I am confident that this Forum will be another step in the national effort to end decades of suffering for the people of South Sudan.
Regarding the peace agreement, commendable progress has been made, especially in the implementation of governance-related tasks under Chapter I of the revitalized peace agreement, as reported by Dr Barnaba Marial Benjamin. The ceasefire holds, creating a relatively conducive environment for the comprehensive implementation of the Peace Agreement.
In addition, the process of drawing up a permanent constitution is underway. Now the people and leaders of South Sudan can come together to agree on a legitimate, popular and inclusive system of constitutional governance that best suits that country.
I urge you to consider the constitution-making and the upcoming electoral processes as important milestones in the march towards peace and stability. A sense of urgency is required, not a “status quo approach”.
As the parties have united around criteria for sharing political power, it is equally important that they strive to make progress on transitional security arrangements. There is now a collective duty to finalize a coherent command and control structure for the graduation and deployment of the necessary Unified Forces. The formation of the Unified Forces is only the first step in a complex but essential process of building a national army which serves the interests of the nation, which is a symbol and a mirror of all its people.
Let me underline the essential role of young people in their contribution to all these processes. In South Sudan, it is estimated that over 70% of the population is under 30 years old. The peace accord calls on the revitalized government to consult with youth groups and ensure that youth representatives participate in the constitution-making and peace-building processes. Their voices and demands – for livelihoods, jobs and education – must be heard so that they too can be positive agents of change.
It is encouraging to see the appointed officials of the state governments set aside their differences to objectively assess their priorities and responsibilities in order to advance the implementation of the peace agreement and the development priorities of South Sudan. I also agree with the leaders of South Sudan who have expressed a strong desire to emerge from a state of constant humanitarian emergency and dependence to move forward on development priorities. Peace needs development, just as development needs peace. This aspiration must be accompanied by international support and be implemented in a coordinated manner by national and subnational structures.
UNMISS recognizes the importance of a bottom-up approach of channeling the priorities of grassroots communities through their respective state governments. Yet it is also imperative to facilitate the necessary flow of resources from the center to the periphery to initiate responsive service delivery at the local level.
In this regard, I wish to welcome the reforms within the public financial management system, which will lead to fiscal support from state and local governments.
Let me highlight an area where resources are badly needed as part of a collective to support the role of governors and administrators in dealing with pervasive intercommunal violence.