High Level Meeting on South Sudan
- Human Rights
- South Sudan
Statement by HE Ms Philippa King, Deputy Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations
Thank you Madam Amos for convening today's meeting. We applaud your ongoing efforts to highlight the desperate plight of the people of South Sudan and to marshal the international community's response to what is a dire humanitarian catastrophe.
Australia is deeply saddened by the situation in South Sudan. Three years ago, on the eve of its independence, the world's newest nation held much promise. Today, nine months of bloody conflict has claimed the lives of an untold number of civilians and displaced over a million more. Livelihoods have been lost. Famine looms. And the fabric of South Sudanese society now lies in tatters.
It is a tragic reality that this human suffering was utterly avoidable. It can be attributed directly to those South Sudanese leaders who are intent on pursuing violently their own narrow self-interest at the expense of their people.
Our obligation now is to help pull back this country from the brink, confronted as we are by grave and persistent human rights violations, extreme protection challenges, and a worsening humanitarian crisis.
Since the crisis began in December last year, Australia has played its role. We provided strategic lift to deliver equipment and troops to bolster the UN surge.
We have committed over $18 million in emergency humanitarian funding. More needs to be done, so we encourage member states to give generously to the South Sudan humanitarian appeals.
Our message to all parties to this conflict is simple. There can be no military solution. President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar must uphold their responsibility to protect civilians, regardless of ethnicity or political affiliation. They must immediately commit themselves and their forces to an enduring ceasefire and engage sincerely in the inclusive peace process led by IGAD.
Full accountability for the grotesque crimes against civilians is essential. Australia remains a strong advocate for targeted sanctions toward those who commit human rights abuses and spoil prospects for peace. We judge that an arms embargo could curb the proliferation of weapons that help prolong this conflict.
By continuing to choose war over a negotiated peace, South Sudan's leaders have betrayed the people of this young nation and they are squandering the international community's goodwill. We urge them to think not of themselves but of the interests of their people. The international community must heed the crystal-clear call to action we have heard today and accelerate our response.