South Sudan Under the UN Rule: Is the Sovereignty Under Threat?


In diplomatic vocabularies, UN trusteeship does not just happen out of blue. In 1945, under Chapter XII of the Charter, the United Nations established the International Trusteeship System for the supervision of Trust Territories placed under it by individual agreements with the States administering them. These trust territories included but not limited to Togoland, Somaliland, New Guinea, Nauru etc. For a country to qualify under this system, article 77 of the UN Charter provides for three modalities to be fulfilled: 1.Territories held under Mandates established by the League of Nations after the First World War, 2.Territories detached from “enemy States” as a result of the Second World War, and 3. Territories voluntarily placed under the System by States responsible for their administration.

None of these provisions qualifies South Sudan to fall under the category. So where do we go from here? Does this implies that Salva Kiir can continue holding the Country hostage? The answer is no. In the International legal doctrines, and of course, the UN Charter, nations which have ratified the relevant conventions are not left to disappear out of the picture without consequences. And here, comes “The Responsibility to Protect” The Responsibility to Protect (R2P or RtoP) is a global political commitment which was endorsed by all member states of the United Nations at the 2005 World Summit to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. This diplomatic term was passed unanimously by the member states of the UN in 2005 to answer pressing calls from a fast-changing world of heinous international crimes. Situations that tested the value of humanity as witnessed in Rwanda, Bosnia, Serra Leone, Darfur, etc have compelled the world to stop talking but start acting. As the world crimes change, so do international doctrines guiding them. The evolution of this term has squeezed the true meaning of “sovereignty” because the purposes under which R2P was coined almost declares sovereignty null and void.

Prevention requires apportioning responsibility to and promoting collaboration between concerned States and the international community. The duty to prevent and halt genocide and mass atrocities lies first and foremost with the State, but the international community has a role that cannot be blocked by the invocation of sovereignty.” Sovereignty no longer exclusively protects States from foreign interference; it is a charge of responsibility that holds States accountable for the welfare of their people. This global doctrine was endorsed under three main principles:

  • The State carries the primary responsibility for protecting populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing, and their incitement;
  • The international community has a responsibility to encourage and assist States in fulfilling this responsibility;
  • The international community has a responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other means to protect populations from these crimes. If a State is manifestly failing to protect its populations, the international community must be prepared to take collective action to protect populations, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

Using South Sudan as a case study, the two options have been exhausted to a zero point. The international players now are left with principle number three. There exists no government in Juba. If there was one, young girls collecting firewood would not be subjected to rape, middle-aged women would not have their worms destroyed using a barrel of a gun, there would be no intimidation of citizens critcal of government activities, and the list goes on. The UN Security Council therefore, in direct consultations with the  Peace and Security Council of the AU, and in line with the recent proposal of the regional peace body, IGAD voted this Friday, to send in a 4,000 strong force to the country. This force goes in to enforce rules and orders of the R2P, and thus, save life and more importantly, enforce the peace deal. The Responsibility to Protect emerges when a nation collapses all the necessary measures that actually make sovereignty meaningful. A state like South Sudan does not have a case in rejecting this international obligation. Research into the dictatorial rules however, proves that a dictator and his cliques can do everything to keep themselves at the helm of power. One does not require a complex knowledge in the field of International Relations, Political Science, or International Laws to understand that dictators do not listen at these points, they are made to do so.

The argument of a sovereign nation does not work at this point in time. Sovereignty, in the truest sense of the word is not about ordering a rape on innocent girls, women, torturing political dissents, participating in crimes of political conspiracy, or intimidating citizens. Sovereignty is about doing away with those practices.  The regime has a right to demonstrate against the looming deployment of the International Force but it does not have a right to keep its population hostage. The value of any government in this century is to have respect for people’s rights, treating them with dignity so that they can positively participate in the nation building. A government that does the contrary cannot have the respect it deserves. Thus, the only exit strategy for the government of the day in Juba lies on the full cooperation with the international orders. Salva Kiir once said “I am being treated like a school boy, no one respects me.” Respect in today’s world is earned but not deserved. Even the Holy Book of our Lord says, “First have respect for yourself in order for others to respect you.” Salva Kiir, Makuei Lueth, and the rest in the game are diplomatically exhausted, militarily worn out, and their political careers roll like a seesaw. It is time for the population to rally behind truth and not behind a person this time. The tribal loyalty that precedes political environment in my young nation ought to stop because it blinds our human sense. It kills the truth, and most importantly, it takes our lives. In conclusion, I leave you with this quote:

“Time has proved us right that the constructive engagement policy with Kiir is exhausted. It thus, follows that the international community is left with destructive engagement (radical regime). Other than that, there’s no agreement to implement with Kiir.” –Amb. Stephen Par Kuol



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