We must bring what is happening in Belarus to the world’s attention and hear from those on the ground. Briefers on #BYHumanRights: UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Anaïs Marin; Belarusian opposition presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya; Vice-Chairman of the Viasna Human Rights Center, Valiantsin Stefanovic; Legal Expert for the Belarusian Association of Journalists, Volha Siakhovich. The meeting is chaired by Urmas Reinsalu, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia. The meeting was initiated by Estonia and co-sponsored by UN Security Council members the United States and United Kingdom, as well as Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Ukraine.

Estonia`s Statement at the UN Security VTC meeting on South Sudan

Delivered by the Permanent Representative of Estonia to the UN, H.E. Mr Sven Jürgenson

Madame President,

I thank the Special Representative of the Secretary General, Mr David Shearer and Mr. Edmund Yakani for their briefings.

First, let me welcome the recent compromise reached by President Kiir and First Vice President Machar on the allocation of states. It is a positive and a long overdue step towards a better future for South Sudan. Estonia encourages all parties to maintain the momentum towards further implementation of the peace agreement, including its transitional justice provisions. We hope that such a momentum will help resolve the slow movement on transitional security arrangements.

We are alarmed by the increase in intercommunal violence, including the use of military grade weapons and tactics. The government of South Sudan should open investigation and prosecute individuals bearing the primary responsibility for this violence. Such vile actions again show us the necessity of the sanctions and the territorial arms embargo.

Continuing in the same vein, Estonia believes that it is important to appoint Governors with no human rights records. This sends a clear signal that grave human rights violations have no place in South Sudan’s public administration. It is also a way to send a positive message to the population of South Sudan, showing that attacks against civilians are not rewarded.

We remain very disturbed by the dire humanitarian situation in the country. The situation has gotten worse due to the pandemic. 56% of the population has no access to even primary health care services. Displaced people in camps or camp-like settings are in a growing danger due to overcrowding, poor access to safe water and sanitation, and limited health care and related services. Add to that food insecurity, approximately 2.4 million children out of school. I agree – it is very much to deal with, but where there is will, there is a way.

We call on the government of South Sudan to do its utmost to help its citizens. This requires keeping the humanitarian assistance and protection flowing, as the impact of the pandemic is growing. We know what the capabilities of the country are; therefore, it is of major importance to take note of all precautionary measures. Saying that, the pandemic should not be used as a pretext to impede UNMISS mandate implementation or slow down the implementation of the peace agreement. It is sad to see that SOFA violations are on the rise. Moreover, disallowing MEDEVAC flights is unacceptable, as UNMISS peacekeepers are risking their lives to help others.

Last, but not least, I want to thank the UNMISS personnel and Mr David Shearer for all their work during these testing times. You have done a tremendous job supporting the country and the civilians.

I thank you, Madame President