By Daniel Juol Nhomngek
January 25, 2014 - South Sudan became a sovereign State on 9th July, 2011 when its flag was raised and Sudan flag was lowered with hypocritical blessing from the UN and its members to join the union of the civilized nations. The consequence of such recognition is that South Sudan became a sovereign state that all nations which recognize her must accord her with an absolute respect as long as it is behaving in accordance with the United Nations principles governing all civilized nations.
The respect comes because South Sudan is a sovereign state, which implies that it must be respected by all other states that recognized her including the UN and its organs. Reasons why other states respect the national sovereignty of fellow states is because all states recognize the importance of being equal whether small, big, strong, weak or poor; state sovereignty is the source of order and rule of law in the international arena and in the relation that exists among all states.
Such an important of state sovereignty is signified by the immunity granted to the state. The state territorial integrity is inviolable no any interference is allowed without any reasonable explanation from the violator. Sovereignty is the source of civilization to all nations. This is because without the state sovereignty there will be no respect among the states and which will result into chaos and anarchies simply because the so-called strong countries would force smaller and weaker countries to do what they want.
For instance, the USA is not equal with South Sudan in terms of military and economic power and it would have forced South Sudan at gun point some days ago to release the prisoners and sign cease-fire with rebels, but for national sovereignty, the USA could not do anything when South Sudan refused to listen to her orders or advice but just to plead with her. This is the beauty of national sovereignty!
It will therefore be correct to conclude that what maintains the world peace up to date since the Second World War ended sixty nine years ago is the respect of state sovereignty. The state sovereignty is a uniting factor among the states and I can take an analogy with Religion and God. In this case, the UNO is like Religion while Sovereignty is like God.
Sovereignty is like God because any country or non-state actor that wants to touch or violate the state sovereignty must do so through the UNO that can either gives green light to go ahead or gives red light to stop from crossing the line of sovereignty of the state. State sovereignty in other words is one of the distinguishing features that make a country a country.
A country without sovereignty is not a country but a land that is up for grab by sovereign states. State Sovereignty gives country an absolute immunity and it is that immunity that makes the country being respected by other countries. No any country which does not have immunity created through national sovereignty that can enjoy full independence or can be considered an independent nation.
This goes that for any country to be considered an independent nation, it must be accorded with sovereign status that is, respected by other states and other non-state actors. The UNMISS must have done the same to South Sudan.
As I have stated above, when South Sudan became an independent state under the auspice of the UN in 2011 and by that fact, she acquired the status of the sovereign state that must be respected by all. Any violation of her state sovereignty must be explained in clear terms by the violator.
Such an explanation can only be acceptable if it is in line with the Article 1 of the UN charter that accords all state with the principle of sovereignty. The UNMISS must have done the same because South Sudan is a sovereign state and it is because of South Sudan government that is why it is still operating in the Country today otherwise, it would have left when its terms expired.
The United Nation Mission in South Sudan operates there because of the permission from the government of South Sudan. The UNMISS must therefore respect the government of South Sudan as long as it is doing what the 1945 UN Charter requires, which is the document governing the relationship between the UN and South Sudan.
However, when I came across 8’Oclock South Sudan Television (SSTV) news on Sunday 19, 2014, that the United Mission in South Sudan denied the Minister of South Sudan of Information and Broadcasting, Honourable Michael Makuei Lueth to access the displaced citizens of South Sudan within its compound, I was baffled, confused, angered, annoyed and completely put off.
I know the inviolability accorded the UN compound from any non-member unless the UN Members within that Compound allow but the exercise of such right wrong exercised wrongly this time. I was completely left speechless and in profoundly shocked and disbelief.
I thought that the UN Mission in South Sudan, which is the part of the UN that enforces the principle of State sovereignty, would be the last body to violate its own religion that it imposes on every state to follow. It was a hypocritical act to see the organ of the UN behaving in such uncivilized manner.
The UN Mission in South Sudan should have followed the formal procedures that are laid down in its own Charter in case of interfering with the South Sudan Sovereignty. The action of the UN Mission in South Sudan gives various interpretations in my understanding.
The denial of legitimate government to see her people gives the interpretation that South Sudan government is a murderer government because it will kill the citizens if allowed to enter the UN Compound. Besides, what does it mean if the UN Mission in South Sudan allowed rebels access to its compound but denied the legitimate government access to the same compound?
In my understanding, it means that the UN Mission in South Sudan sympathizes with the rebels and wanted the rebels to overthrow the government. Such an act is a hostile act and the government of South Sudan must seek answers from the head of the UNMISS because it is a hostile act that cannot be tolerated by any sovereign state, may South Sudan will be an exceptional case in modern history.
Another interpretation which comes in my mind is that the UN Mission in South Sudan has declared the attempted coup successful and considered the current government illegitimate, a view that is inconsonant with the principle of State sovereignty. The state sovereignty provides that all recognized government must be respected by both governments and non-state actors.
It was a violation of South Sudan sovereignty within its territory. If it a buffer zone or no fly zone then it is the UN General Assembly that passes resolution not an organ like the UNMISS. South Sudan must this time exercise its sovereignty rights to seek clear explanation from the Head of the UNMISS because the denial appeared literally something small but it is a serious violation of the state sovereignty.
The denial of the Minister of South Sudan to visit the citizens of South Sudan is a serious violation of South Sudan sovereignty because one of the elements that make a country like South Sudan an independent and sovereign state is people according to Montevideo Convention.
Article 1 of Montevideo Convention provides among others that permanent population is one of the elements which define the sovereign state. Since the population is made up of the people whom the state has absolute duty to protect I am sure South Sudan government cannot afford to lose any person within that population unless otherwise, which will not be her intention. As I have stated above I am baffled by the UN Mission in South Sudan’s act of denying the minister of information of South Sudan unfettered access to the people of South Sudan, I consider such an act to be offensive and our government should treat it seriously.
If there is no proper explanation given by the UNMISS, then the government of South Sudan should tell UNMISS that the time is up and it must leave South Sudan because it has gone too far. The UNMISS has gone beyond its mandate because its mandate is not to restrict the action of the government from executing her duties that are granted by the UN Charter but to ensure that the country works in line with the principles enshrined in the UN Charter and other international legal instruments.
Visiting the displaced persons by the country’s minister within its own territory is one of the duties that legitimate government must carry out irrespective of whoever is in charge of such persons. It is consistent with the duties of the government provided by the international laws and failure to carry out such duties would be contrary to the international norms that govern the civilized nations.
The UN Mission has got it wrong this time and must give proper explanation otherwise it must be told to pack and leave South Sudan territory because it is not even keeping peace but interfering with the state management. What did the UNMISS do when people were being massacred in Juba, Unity State and Jonglei State? Where was the UNMISS in December 2013? It is hypocrisy. If the UNMISS in South Sudan wishes then let it must join Riek because the way it is behaving appears that it is supporting rebels. Why did it allow rebels to enter compound unfettered but denied the government minister accessible to the same compound? Why?
The writer is the Student of Law in Makerere University, Kampala- Uganda. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org