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Explanation of Vote by Ambassador Dai Bing on the UN Security Council Resolution Extending the Mandate of UNMISS

2023-03-15 16:33

Mr. President, 

China commends UNMISS’ great efforts to maintain peace and stability and to help accelerate the nation-building in South Sudan. Since the mission's establishment in 2011, China, as a main TCC, has dispatched 9 peacekeeping infantry battalions and 13 engineering and medical units to South Sudan, where 4 Chinese Blue Helmets made the ultimate sacrifice. On South Sudan’s journey to peace and development, China has always stood together with the people in South Sudan. We remain ready to continue our active participation in the work of UNMISS and make positive contribution to the peace and stability in South Sudan.

Regrettably, the draft resolution just voted on by the Security Council contains elements that are designed to exert lopsided pressure on South Sudan. And the mandate given to UNMISS fails to take into hook the situation on the ground and have certain country’s political self interest mingled in. China therefore had to abstain in the voting. I like to make the following explanations. 

First, South Sudan is the youngest member state of the UN. Years for war leaves it with a weak foundation to build on. The international community should have an objective view on the country in terms of its stage of development and the difficulties and the challenges it faces in improving state governance, and should give it necessary patience and encouragement. The draft resolution, however, is a harshly worded and unbalanced document. For example, it claims that “the inter-communal violence in South Sudan is linked to national-level violence and corruption undertaken by South Sudan’s previous civil war actors in the capital”, an accusation that is clearly not objective. Despite China’s repeated requests for change, the overall tone of the draft remains negative, which is regrettable. 

Second, issues such as elections, finance, and resource management are internal affairs in any country. The prerequisite for the Council to pronounce on these matters is the principle of non-interference in internal affairs. It is up to the Government and the people of South Sudan to decide how to conduct elections, open treasury accounts, and manage oil resources. This draft resolution, in making demands and imposing conditions on these matters without the consent of South Sudan, clearly exceeds the normal and reasonable limits. 

Third, South Sudan is one of the countries most affected by climate shocks. The international community should focus on helping it in capacity building to strengthen climate resilience. During the consultations, China requested many times the inclusion of “calling on international community, in particular developed countries, to scale up action and support including finance, capacity-building and technology transfer, to enhance adaptive capacity of South Sudan, and reduce their vulnerability to climate change”. This text was immediately supported by African members, but it is hard to understand why such a proposal which encourages useful and concrete efforts to help South Sudan address climate change has been rejected. 

Fourth, the protection of civilians is an important mandate of UNMISS. To this end, peacekeepers from a dozen countries, including China, have worked tirelessly and even made the highest of sacrifice. When developing peacekeeping mandates, the Security Council must always remember that the primary responsibility for protection of civilians rests with the host country. The peacekeeping mission is not tasked to replace the government of the host country, but rather to help it in capacity building and support it in fulfilling the responsibility to protect civilians. Consent of the parties, impartiality, and non-use of force except for self-defense or defense of mandates are the basic principles for peacekeeping, that shall not be overstepped. 

Surprisingly, the preliminary drafts explicitly request UNMISS to take “offensive” action. It allows the Mission to “take all necessary measures” “to engage any actor, including the Government of South Sudan and its proxies, that is credibly found to be preparing attacks, or engages in attacks, against civilians”, and also provides that “UNMISS doesn’t require prior Government of South Sudan authorization or permission to undertake its mandated tasks”. These formulations go far beyond the basic peacekeeping principles, and seem to suggest an intention to make UNMISS a power center above the Government of South Sudan and to turn a UN peacekeeping mission into a multi-country force. 

Following strong demands from many members, including TCCs, modifications were made to the contentious elements. But still, there is an overemphasis of the use of force as a preferred means of civilian protection. If we compare this resolution with Council resolutions on MINUSMA and MINUSCA. The POC mandate here far exceeds what is contained in those two resolutions. Such a mandate is very likely to create new difficulties to the work of UNMISS, and will put more than 19,000 peacekeepers in danger. China, as a main TCC to UNMISS, has strong reservations on this matter. 

Mr. President,

It is not a privilege but a responsibility to serve as a penholder. Penholder should always remain objective and impartial, fully heed the views of the countries concerned, and accommodate the legitimate concerns and demands of all members, instead of dismissing or deliberately ignoring other views or insisting on putting national positions above the views of the countries concerned or the views of the Council, or even halting consultations and forcing a draft through to a vote when differences remain. In recent weeks, things have repeatedly happened this way, which is by no means good to the unity and effectiveness of the Council. We urge relevant member to show the impartiality and inclusiveness as expected of penholder and make genuine efforts for consensus. 

Thank you, Mr. President.

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