As Violence Ramps up in South Sudan, UN Experts Push for the Establishment of the Long-Awaited Hybrid Court to bring Justice to the Country

As Violence Ramps up in South Sudan, UN Experts Push for the Establishment of the Long-Awaited Hybrid Court to bring Justice to the Country
Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

22-02-2022

Clea Strydom

International Justice and Human Rights Researcher, 

Global Human Rights Defence.

As the violence in South Sudan ramps up and elections are set for next year, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan warned this month after their ninth visit to the country that the delays in implementing key elements of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan signed in 2018 are contributing to impunity, violence, and lack of justice. Part of the Agreement was the establishment of a Hybrid Court of South Sudan which would be responsible for the investigation and prosecution of international law and/or applicable South Sudanese law violations, committed from 15th December 2013 through to around May 2019. The Hybrid Court’s material jurisdiction will include genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and other serious crimes, including gender-based crimes and sexual violence.

The African Union Commission was responsible for establishing the  Hybrid Court and the United States of America had pledged $5 million dollars in assistance but the majority of the funds were not used and the United States quietly retracted support in 2021. Part of the reason the AU has been unable to establish the Hybrid Court is because of a lack of political will from South Sudan. Both the President and Vice President, of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit and Riek Machar, have claimed that the court is unnecessary. After a workshop held in December 2021 key stakeholders to transitional justice processes in South Sudan adopted a joint strategy and plan of action to accelerate the implementation of the Revitalised Peace Agreement commitments. The Sudanese government has implemented steps towards establishing a truth and reconciliation commission as mandated by the Peace Agreement, but are still a long way off from establishing the Court. On 11 February 2022, United Nations Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan urged the importance of moving ahead with undertakings made towards justice in South Sudan. It remains to be seen whether the relevant stakeholders can deliver on their promises, but victims are losing hope.

Sources and Further Reading

Intergovernmental Authority on Development (September 12, 2018). Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan. https://docs.pca-cpa.org/2016/02/South-Sudan-Peace-Agreement-September-2018.pdf

https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/Pages/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=27972&LangID=E

Human Rights Watch (August 5, 2021). South Sudan: African Union Disappoints on Justice https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/08/05/south-sudan-african-union-disappoints-justice 

UN News (February 11, 2022). South Sudan: Political violence on the rise, UN rights experts Warn.  https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/02/1111752 

United Nations Human Rights Council (December 15, 2021). High-level conference held to sustain momentum for transitional justice in South Sudan.

United Nations Human Rights Council (11 February 2022). UN Human Rights Experts warn of increased political violence and polarisation in South Sudan, at conclusion of visit to the country. https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/Pages/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=28109&LangID=E