By: Daniel Juol Nhomngek, Law Development Centre (LDC), Kampala Uganda, MAY/06/2016, SSN;
On May 4, 2016, Peace monitoring body JMEC and the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said that the 28 states created by President Salva Kiir are not in line with the peace agreement and are not recognized by them as legitimate.
The question is: who are they to recognize the rights of South Sudanese to self-determination in regard to the utilization of their resources? It is only the country that can be recognized by other countries but the right to self-determination of the people in the utilization of their resources is outside of the jurisdiction of any state.
The JMEC and UNMISS are playing political gimmicks and they should stop it with immediate effect. Enough is enough, we are tired with naked violence of the UNMISS wrapped in language of peace and peace keeping.
I have come to the realization and conclusion that what many South Sudanese people have been saying about the UNMISS is true. When the civil broke out in 2013, many South Sudanese pointed their fingers at UNMISS blaming it as one of the contributors to the outbreak and demise of South Sudanese unity and nationhood.
Thus, in confirmation the suspicion of South Sudanese as stated above, I was not supervised to see the UN representative inciting the violence in South Sudan on May 4, 2016. On that date at a news conference at UN House in the Jebel area of Juba, Ellen Loej, the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) and Head of UNMISS, came out openly to confirm the suspicion against the UNMISS held by majority of South Sudanese by stating that they had not recognized 28 States citing ethnic tensions as the major reason.
What Ellen Loej did not understand is that her action and conduct contribute to an increased tension in the country by encouraging few disgruntled individuals who are not happy with the creation of New 28 States to increase their ethnic attacks as a way of achieving their demand through their sister UNMISS.
For the above reasons, I have realized that these international bodies take people for granted. I was actually devastated, I felt angry, helpless and stupid by that shameless UN representative who preached conflicts undercover of peace.
I felt like that because the UNMISS is hypocrite and inhuman. The UN preaches peace but its agencies like the UNMISS are preaching the violence and human rights violation under the cover of keeping peace or giving humanitarian support.
I am still wondering up to now where the UNMISS Madam Ellen Loej, gets the facts and courage to make such ignorant understatement backed by insufficient reasoning. She must understand that peace is not the absence of war but it exists where majority of the people are protected and happy.
Madam Ellen Loej, I wished you were around where I am to ask you this few questions: “Madam, you said you are in South Sudan to protect the rights of South Sudanese and to maintain peace: how many people were killed under the arrangement of ten States? Have you ever come out to confront the government in failing to protect citizens of South Sudan in different states? Was the UNMISS happy in what was happening in Lakes State, in particular in Cueibet county, which currently the Gok State among 28 States?”
Hypocrites! I have come to conclusion that UNMISS has the eyes but it does not see and has ears but does not hear the fact that people of South Sudan suffered to a greater extent under the previous ten states arrangement.
It appears that the UNMISS in South Sudan is not a peace keeping mission but a war broker mission bound to achieve the hidden agenda of their undisclosed principal who wants to destroy South Sudan in language of maintaining peace. This explains why the UNMISS officials do not even seek guides from the purpose and objective of the UN Charter of 1945, which is the Constitution governing UN and its member States.
In its Preamble, the UN Charter of 1945 provides for the maintenance international peace in order to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war (the World Wars), which twice has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to also reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.
Hypocrisy! Is it how to reaffirm the UN faith in fundamental human rights in the dignity and worth of the human person by subjecting the innocent citizens to unworkable ten states arrangement that formerly existed in South Sudan, which were infested with grave and inhuman corruption?
The UNMISS should be realistic and stick to its objectives as provided under the UN Charter. In objectives 3 and 4 of the UN Charter it is further provided that the purpose of the UN is to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion; and to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.
In order to achieve the above objectives of the UN Charter, principle 1paragraph 2 of the same Charter provides that the principle and purpose of the United Nations is to achieve an ultimate goal of developing friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace.
Is it how to maintain international peace through violating human rights to self-determination? I would like to remind the UNMISS that the right to self-determination is the core of human rights.
The importance of the rights to self-determination is shown in both international human rights instruments which are: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights of 1966. In these two human rights instruments, the right to self-determination is provided in common article 1, and by virtue of that right, the people are protected by human rights law to freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
Moreover, in article 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights, the purpose of the rights to self-determination is explained that all peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. Hence, in no case as that article 2 above points out, may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.
On regional level, Article 20 (1) of the AFRICAN (BANJUL) CHARTER ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES’ RIGHTS (Adopted 27 June 1981, OAU Doc. CAB/LEG/67/3 rev. 5, 21 I.L.M. 58 (1982), entered into force 21 October 1986) provides that all peoples shall have the right to existence. They shall have the unquestionable and inalienable right to self- determination and they shall freely determine their political status and shall pursue their economic and social development according to the policy they have freely chosen.
Therefore, the question is: is it how to achieve the right to self-determination by denying people rights to self-determination and instead subject them to unworkable and inhuman arrangements called ten states? If ten States were a person, I would have brought the claim against it in the ICC because thousands of people were killed under it.
I can go on and on citing all international and regional human rights laws to show UNMISS that the rights to self-determination is a right firmly established under the international law and it is as well applicable to the people of South Sudan. South Sudanese have fundamental rights to determine their own survival irrespective of any consideration or politics.
However, what I have discovered to be the greatest problems with all international organizations including the UNMISS is that they do not see potential human rights violation unless people fight for it first and then later recognize it after thousands of lives have been lost.
The cause of this indifference may be that UNMISS and other human rights organization are there not to protect human rights but to create the modern sphere of influence for their respective nations by destroying the indigenous communities wherever they are found.
The UNMISS and JMEC must understand that the issue of 28 States is no longer debatable nor is it within the political arena. It has become a human right issue and any mistake made to destroy these states will be a destruction of majority of South Sudanese and also will cause another long and justified protracted war in South Sudan.
Warning! Some of us are outside South Sudan just waiting to hear that the 28 States are no longer there and the moment we hear that we will come to mobilize all youths and other citizens to start another dangerous war against whoever has the hands in destruction of 28 States.
As I have already stated above, the issue of 28 States is settled since it is a matter of human rights and it is red line for anybody to cross it. 28 States have helped our people to achieve some peace and the example is that unlike before the creation of 28 States where Lakes State was in danger of people destroying each other as hundreds of people were killed under the inefficient leadership of Matur Chut, today some parts of Lakes State such as Gok State and Eastern Lakes (the former Yirol) State are in peace but for the creation of 28 States.
However, JMEC and UNMISS are out there preaching the language of violence and threats against the new states and their people. The UNMISS must stop these languages of threat against human rights.
In fact, I completely fail to comprehend as to why the UNMISS complains that the creation of 28 States is not part of peace agreement and it is increasing ethic violence yet as I am aware, it is bringing peace, stability in term of security to the people who were previously in danger of destroying each other.
There must be another hidden agenda. South Sudanese must realize that the UNMISS is not there to create peace but to destroy South Sudan and after that leave the Country in tatters.
Furthermore, it appears that the UNMISS has misunderstood the cause of ethnic tension. The creation of States is not a cause of ethnic tension. Ethnic tension has its roots in history of the relation of South Sudanese with Sudan.
In that regard, ethnic tension was used as a tool by the previous Sudanese government to destroy the Unity of South Sudanese. Hence, the UNMISS should not take effect for the cause.
The hatred and misgiving among South Sudanese we see today is part of an inherent culture of tribal relation between different tribes in South Sudan as it was sown by the former colonial Northern Masters through their divide and rules policy polished by wrong education system.
Hence, destroying 28 states in order to appease other South Sudanese who are inciting violence is not a solution to South Sudanese problems. Instead, it will worsen the situation by pitting citizens even further against each other.
In my understanding and analysis, in order to achieve lasting peace, internal coherent and cohesion in South Sudan, the solution is not to destroy 28 States but to under the root causes of the hatred and misgiving and to deconstruct the history that gave rise to the current tension.
Otherwise, the UNMISS and JMEC have taken effect for the cause and are treading on dangerous grounds that can cause another even serious wars in South Sudan.
I have to repeat, destruction of 28 States is not even closer to getting solutions to the problems of South Sudan. If the UNMISS pushes further with its claim of not recognizing the existence of 28 States because some South Sudanese are causing ethnic violence, then, it appears that the JMEC and UNMISS are trying to impose the principle of victor justice where those with power are awarded something because of their victory.
The victor justice or the policy of digging a hole to fill a hole is not a solution to South Sudanese problems. The UNMISS and JMEC should not stick to peace agreement blindly to the extent of not seeing some impending dangerous issues.
What is wrong with 28 States? The creation of 28 States might have been ill-intended with political motivation but the way they are helping people today proves that South Sudan needs to adopt that approach if it were to achieve lasting peace and development.
Oil should not be the determinant of people rights. As my analysis shows, the contention is not over why 28 states were created but some selfish politicians want the destruction of 28 States in order to come up with other states that give them control over oil.
This was shown by the first 21 States that were created by Riek Machar when he curbed all areas of oil into the states he considered to be his.
As explained above if we look at the problems of South Sudan at the political angle solely then South Sudan will never achieve lasting peace. In order to achieve legitimate and lasting peace must look for the way how to make people happy. This means that if South Sudan were to create States even if it were based on family, but as long as, the citizens of South Sudan are protected and do anything that can protect their rights, then there is no problem with that.
This brings me to some concerns expressed by those who consider themselves South Sudanese nationalists who point out that creating states based on tribes could destroy the South Sudanese unity. This kind of reasoning is a fallacy of our modern thinking where we love the country without offering anything to it.
Instead, when we are given responsibility to run the country, we destroy it through corruption and after that leaving the country divided and in helpless state.
Thus, what I want to tell the people who bear this kind of thinking is that the unity of the country is not achieved through adopting a particular system of governance but it comes through the action of its leaders.
Once again, I would like to warn the JMEC and the UNMISS to leave out the issue of 28 States in the peace discourse. They must objectively assess the viability of 28 States instead of blindly condemning the whole project.
In order to be in Peace the UNMISS must avoid agitation for useless claim of not recognizing 28 States. Rather, it should help South Sudan to form the Commission or tribunal composed of respected people to objectively determine claims concerning the land grabbing involving the creation of 28 States and if that claim is genuine then those who claim must be given their rights.
NB//; the author is the Concerned South Sudanese lawyer in Uganda and can be reached through: +256783579256 or firstname.lastname@example.org