September 22, 2016 (JUBA) - The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Ban has charged South Sudan leaders, including the country’s President Salva Kiir, with having “betrayed their people” by pursuing a violent path to power.
- The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon handshake with the President of the Republic of South Sudan, Salva Kiir at Presidential Palace, J1 in Juba capital on February 25, 2016 (UNMISS photo)
“In too many places, we see leaders rewriting constitutions, manipulating elections and taking other desperate steps to cling to power,” Ban said in his final speech before the world body’s General Assembly on Wednesday.
“My message to all is clear: serve your people. Do not subvert democracy; do not pilfer your country’s resources; do not imprison and torture your critics,” he added.
Ban criticized outside powers that have supported the warring parties on both sides of the South Sudanese conflict, but did not directly name these countries on Wednesday.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced in South Sudan’s worst violence since its cessation from Sudan in July 2011. The UN, on several occasions, accused South Sudan’s warring forces of gross human rights violations.
Several attempt by the world body and its member states to impose targeted sanctions, including asset freezes and travel bans, on those responsible for serious human rights abuses in South Sudan have often been thwarted by Russia.
“Powerful patrons that keep feeding the war machine also have blood on their hands,” the UN chief told the assembly.
“Present in this hall today are representatives of governments that have ignored, facilitated, funded, participated in or even planned and carried out atrocities inflicted by all side,” he added.
Ban called on all countries to continue to pursue reform of the UN Security Council, calling for “a major and much needed reform for fairness and effectiveness in the UN.”
He added that “far too often, I have seen widely-supported proposals blocked, in the name of consensus, by a few or sometimes even just one country,” and questioned whether it is fair for any one country or few countries to yield such disproportionate power and “hold the world hostage on so many important issues?”
Last month, the 15-member UN Security Council approved the deployment of an additional 4,000-strong peacekeeping force in South Sudan, after renewed clashes in the capital between the country’s rival factions threatened to send the young nation back to all-out civil war.
Stressing that consensus should not be confused with unanimity, the Secretary-General told the General Assembly that, “The global public is right to ask whether this is how an organization in which we have invested so much hope and aspirations should function.”
The UN chief also called on the President of the General Assembly, to explore, with his successor, the establishment of a high-level panel to find practical solutions that will improve decision-making at the global organization.
He also urged all countries to cooperate with and work with the UN’s human rights arm; to not put obstacles in the path humanitarian workers; and not to ostracize or threaten UN envoys or and staff when they raise difficult issues.
“We must all be open and accountable to the people we serve,” said the UN chief.
He called on all political leaders not to “engage in the cynical and dangerous political math that says you add votes by dividing people and multiplying fear,” urging the world to “stand up against lies and distortions of truth, and reject all forms of discrimination.”