The past few weeks have brought about very fundamental lessons on how the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) still remains the critical document for peace and stability in South Sudan.
Perhaps the lessons lie in understanding what can be achieved when the parties to the agreement work together.
Recently, we have seen the leaderships of the parties, with the support of the region’s leaders, come together, make compromises, and overcome obstacles for the sake of peace.
The R-ARCSS, signed in September 2018, is a comprehensive document, containing six thematic chapters. Although commendable progress has been made towards implementation of some provisions of the agreement to date, it is true that overall, its implementation has been slow.
February 2022 marked 24 months since the formation of the Revitalised Transitional Government of National Unity (RTGoNU) and, today, there are fewer than 11 months to the end of the transitional period.
But the events of the past few weeks should give hope and encouragement that despite the challenges and the pressures, much can be achieved in the time remaining.
The Transitional Security Arrangements — Chapter 2 — is the backbone of the agreement, but had been experiencing delays particularly in the unification of the forces. However, the signing, on April 3, 2022, of the Security Agreement between the ITGoNU, the SPLM/A-IO, and South Sudan Opposition Alliance broke the impasse and, as per the matrix of the agreement, there should now be timely and appropriate progress.
In other words, in the weeks and few months to come, the parties have agreed to make great strides forward. The matrix also details the steps that need to be taken for graduation, redeployment, and Phase 2 of the Necessary Unified Forces (NUF) to happen.
After the signing of the Security Agreement, the official launch of the public consultations for the establishment of the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing (CTRH) took place at Freedom Hall in Juba on April 5. The outcome of nationwide consultations will inform the legislation which establishes the CTRH, which is one of the three mechanisms envisaged by the Transitional Justice chapter in the R-ARCSS.
It is important the Technical Committee from the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs undertakes the process of national consultations in a manner that gives opportunity to all the citizens of South Sudan to meaningfully participate and give their honest views about the kind of CTRH they wish to see established.
Furthermore, it is also important that the consultations are conducted in a manner which upholds the letter and spirit of the R-ARCSS, and that they align with international human rights standards and best practices.
The ultimate goal of the Peace Agreement is to have an enduring and sustainable peace in South Sudan through constitutionalism and free, fair and credible elections.
South Sudanese know that elections are an important objective of the agreement and many critical tasks which are necessary to achieving this objective remain pending before this requirement is achieved.
Accordingly, the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC) has requested the RTGoNU to review the status of the implementation of the Agreement and to prepare a strategy on how it intends to implement the remaining outstanding tasks within timelines, considering the remaining period before the end of the Transitional Period in February 2023.
The parties need to build on the recent momentum for a clear projection of priorities going forward.
It is imperative that South Sudanese leadership recognises that when the Parties to the Agreement come together for the sake of peace and stability, and with additional support of regional and international leaders, much can be achieved. The South Sudanese people are crying out for peace, and it is important that the Parties make good on the promise they made in the preamble of the Agreement; that they will lay the foundation for a united, peaceful and prosperous society, in order to ensure justice, equality, respect for human rights and the rule of law in South Sudan. As RJMEC, we continue to encourage the speedy implementation of all chapters of the Agreement in letter and spirit in accordance to our mandate.
Major General Charles Tai Gituai (rtd) is the interim chairperson of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission