September 2, 2012 (JUBA) - The Republic of South Sudan last week appointed Ambassador Francis Meding Deng, an experienced diplomat, as its Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
- Francis Deng (Photo U.N.)
Deng, who hails from Abyei a region claimed by both Sudan and South, last week took oath in the presence of South Sudan President, Salva Kiir, during which the renowned human rights activists, pledged to effectively implement the new nation’s foreign policy, despite the enormous challenges it faces.
South Sudan became a member of the UN last year, just a few weeks after it seceded from Sudan, following a self-determination referendum that was overwhelmingly in favour of separation. The vote was a key pre-condition in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended over two decades of war between the former SPLM rebels who now govern South Sudan and the Sudanese government in Khartoum.
Despite six years of sharing power, South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July 2011 with many issues still unresolved including the demarcation of the fertile and oil-rich border, the status of the contested area of Abyei, a mechanism to replace the 50:50 split of South Sudan’s oil during the peace deal, as well as security issues related to armed SPLM members from the Sudanese states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
For the last year the SPLM North has been fighting the Khartoum government after the Sudanese military attempted to disarm them before protocols relating to the their areas were fully implemented. Khartoum now accuses Juba of continuing to back their former colleagues.
Juba denies this and accuses Khartoum of backing South Sudanese rebellions. The two sides fought a brief border war in April this year over the oil-rich Heglig region and relations remain tense despite a break through on the oil dispute in August meaning that exports through Sudan are expected to resume within the next six months.
Deng, 74, holds a Bachelor of Laws from Khartoum University as well as Master of Laws and a Doctor of the Science of Law from Yale University.
He has held various distinguished positions, including serving as UN Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide, a spot he held until 17 July 2012 at the level of Under-Secretary General.
Prior to this, Deng served as director of the Sudan Peace Support Project based at the United States Institute of Peace from 2006-2007. In his earlier days, Deng served as Human Rights Officer at the UN Secretariat from 1967 to 1972.
His vast international exposure, his allies say, will greatly enhance South Sudan’s foreign relations having initially served as Sudan’s Ambassador to Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the United States.
He also served as the Sudan’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and has authored and edited 40 books in the fields of law, conflict resolution, internal displacement, human rights, anthropology, folklore, history and politics.
During his presence in the United States he was involved with a group of US activists and the current US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, to lobby the Obama Administration to support South Sudan’s independence.