The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 547th meeting held on 26 September 2015 at the level of Heads of State and Government, adopted the following decision on the Report of the AU Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan (AUCISS):



1.    Takes note of the statement made by the Chairperson of the Commission and the introductory remarks made by the Commissioner for Peace and Security, the Chairperson of the AUCISS, as well as of the recommendations made by the Peace and Security Council ad hoc sub-Committee established pursuant to Communiqué PSC/MIN/COMM.(DXXVI) adopted at its 526th meeting, held on 24 July 2015, to consider the report of the AUCISS and the Separate Opinion submitted by a member of the AUCISS and make recommendations on the way forward. Council also takes note of the statements made by the Vice-President of the Republic of South Sudan and by the Chairperson of  the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD);

2.    Recalls its previous pronouncements on the situation in South Sudan, including communiqué PSC/MIN/COMM.(DXXVI) referred to above and press statement PSC/BR/2.(DXXXVII) adopted at its 537th meeting held on 24 August 2015;

3.    Welcomes the signing of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (hereafter the Agreement) by Dr. Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon, Chairman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement In Opposition (SPLM/IO), Mr. Pagan Amum, on behalf of the Former Political Detainees (FD), and by other South Sudanese stakeholders, during the IGAD-Plus Summit held in Addis Ababa, on 17 August 2015, and by President Salva Kiir Mayardit, in Juba, on 26 August 2015;

4.    Commends the Chairperson of IGAD, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia, and the other leaders of the region, as well as the Team of IGAD Special Envoys, for their sustained efforts in facilitating the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan. Council also commends the AU High Representative for South Sudan, former President Alpha Oumar Konare, and the members of the AU High-Level ad hoc Committee on South Sudan (Algeria, Chad, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Africa), as well as the other members of the IGAD-Plus Mechanism (European Union – EU, United Nations – UN, IGAD Partners Forum – IPF, China, Norway, United Kingdom and the United States of America), for their contribution to the finalization and signing of the Agreement;

5.    Stresses that the signing of the Agreement represents a decisive step in the efforts to  end the conflict that broke out in December 2013 and the untold violence inflicted on the civilian population, and reiterates the AU's full support to the Agreement, noting that it is the result of intensive and prolonged negotiations and consultations, and underlines that the provisions contained therein should be implemented in their entirety and unequivocally;

6.    Expresses the AU’s commitment, both through the High Representative for South Sudan and the AU High Level ad hoc Committee on South Sudan, to fully play its role in the implementation process, together with IGAD, the UN and other concerned international stakeholders. In this respect, Council reiterates its request to the Commission, working closely with IGAD and the UN, as well as with other stakeholders, to submit to it, as soon as possible, concrete proposals on how best the AU could contribute to the implementation of the Agreement. Council, reiterating its readiness to authorize the deployment of a force to further support the implementation of the Agreement, should this become necessary, requests the Commission to conduct contingency planning and to engage consultations with the region and the relevant international partners, including the UN, to this effect;

7.    Notes with deep disappointment and concern that, following the signing of the Agreement, there have been reports of violations of the permanent ceasefire. Council strongly warns all concerned that it will not tolerate any further violations and, in line with its previous pronouncements, expresses its determination to impose measures against all those who would impede the implementation of this Agreement;    

8.    Reiterates the AU’s support to the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), as well as to the IGAD Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (MVM), and looks forward to the early transition of the MVM into the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM), as provided for in the Agreement. Council stresses the need for the urgent operationalization of the CTSAMM, as a means of verifying compliance with the Agreement and addressing claims and counter-claims regarding violations of the ceasefire, and pending the conclusion of this process, calls for the urgent provision of financial and logistical support to the MVM to strengthen its effectiveness. Council demands, once again, that the parties fully cooperate with UNMISS and with the MVM/CTSAMM, to enable them effectively to discharge their respective mandates;

9.     Welcomes the convening of the Permanent Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements (PCTSA) Workshop, held in Addis Ababa, from 13 to 18 September 2015, and, in this regard, notes with satisfaction the signing of the Minutes of the Workshop by the Government,  and demands that the SPLM-A/IO sign them without precondition and without further delay, to enable the implementation process to start in earnest;

10.    Looks forward to the early establishment of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) provided for in the Agreement, to be chaired by a prominent African personality appointed by the IGAD Assembly, in consultation with  the IGAD-Plus partners, with the responsibility of monitoring and overseeing the implementation of the Agreement and the mandate and tasks of the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU), as well as overseeing the work of various entities, including the CTSAMM, the Economic and Financial Management Authority (FEMA) and the Strategic Defense and Security Review Board (SDSRB). Council welcomes the consultations initiated by IGAD towards the appointment of the Chair of the JMEC and encourages it to expedite the finalization of these consultations;

11.    Calls on all the South Sudanese parties to abide scrupulously by the terms of the Agreement and implement faithfully its provisions, and to seize this unique opportunity to open a new chapter in the history of their young nation and live up to the expectations of their long suffering people;

12.    Congratulates the Chair of the AUCISS, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and the other members of the Commission, namely Honorable Sophia Akuffo, Ms. Bineta Diop, Professor Mahmood Mamdani and Professor Pacifique Manirakiza, for their hard work and the commitment shown in the discharge of their mandate, as well as the team of experts that supported the AUCISS;
13.    Expresses appreciation to the Government of the Republic of South Sudan, the SPLM/IO, political parties, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), civil society and other South Sudanese parties, for the cooperation extended to the AUCISS. Council also expresses appreciation to IGAD, the countries of the region, the UN and other international stakeholders, for the cooperation extended to the AUCISS;

14.    Commends the member countries of the ad hoc sub-Committee of the Peace and Security Council comprising Algeria, Chad, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda, established in pursuance of paragraph 15 of Communiqué PSC/MIN/COMM.(DXXVI), for the commitment with which they have discharged their mandate to consider the AUCISS report and the Separate Opinion and make recommendations on the way forward;

15.    Reaffirms the AU’s commitment to a comprehensive approach to the issues of peace, justice and reconciliation in Africa, rooted in contexts specific to each country. In this respect, Council underlines the continued relevance of the AU Policy on Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development, adopted by the 9th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council, held in Banjul, The Gambia, from 28 to 29 June 2006, which, in its indicative elements relating to justice and reconciliation, calls for the pursuit of the following objectives: (i) total rejection of impunity, as expressed in Article 4 (o) of the Constitutive Act, (ii) encouragement and facilitation of peace building and reconciliation activities from the national to the community levels, (iii) creation of opportunities for the use of traditional mechanisms of reconciliation and/or justice, to the extent they are compatible with national laws and relevant international instruments, and (iv) promotion of institution building in state and community-based institutions engaged in reconciliation. Council further underlines the particular relevance of Communiqué PSC/MIN/COMM.(CCCLXXXIII) on the theme “National Reconciliation: Critical Factor for Security, Stability and Development in Africa”, adopted at its 383rd meeting held in Algiers, Algeria, on 29 June 2013, as well as of decision Assembly/AU/Dec.501(XXII), adopted by the Assembly of the Union at its 22nd Ordinary Session, held in Addis Ababa from 30 to 31 January 2014, declaring 2014-2024 as the Madiba Nelson Mandela Decade of Reconciliation in Africa;

16.    Further reaffirms the commitment of the AU to combat impunity, in line with Article 4 (o) of the AU Constitutive Act and the relevant provisions of the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union;

17.    Reiterates its conviction that the achievement of lasting peace and reconciliation in South Sudan requires a holistic approach addressing, in a mutually-supportive way, the inter-related issues of accountability, reconciliation, healing and institutional reforms, based on ownership by the South Sudanese stakeholders and robust African and international support. Council further reiterates its conviction of the need to promote an African solution to the challenges at hand, as opposed to a “one-size-fits-all” remedy, packaged as universal, to further an approach rooted in the understanding of the South Sudanese context, including the historical, political, moral and economic causes that led to the eruption of a violent conflict in December 2013;

18.    Welcomes the commitment of the parties to the Agreement to national reconciliation, accountability, healing and combating impunity as part of the highest priorities of the TGoNU. Council further welcomes the determination of the Parties to build an inclusive and democratic society founded on the rule of law, and their firm commitment to end the culture of the use of force, as a means of settling differences and misunderstandings, and to promote a culture of peace and dialogue;

19.    Notes the findings and recommendations contained in the Final Report of the AUCISS and in the Separate Opinion, as they relate to institutional reforms in South Sudan (building a strong state, systems of governance, devolution of power, comprehensive security sector reform, financial management and strategic resources, national and state legislative, judiciary and justice delivery system, political parties, civil society and media) and human rights violations and other abuses during the conflict, including accountability (violations of human rights and other abuses, healing and reconciliation and sequencing of peace and justice). Council notes that the AUCISS and the Separate Opinion have highlighted the following aspects:

(i)    the extreme violence that is the focus of the AUCISS report was unleashed in two phases: (a) the first over three days, from 16 to 18 December 2014, in Juba, (b) the second phase covered three states in the provinces and was centered around the towns of Bor, Bentui and Malakal;

(ii)    the occurrence of sexual and gender-based violence committed by both parties against women, as well as other acts of extreme cruelty and inhuman brutality;

(iii)    most of the atrocities were carried out against innocent civilians. Places of religion and hospitals were attacked, humanitarian assistance was impeded, towns pillaged and destroyed, places of protection attacked and children under 15 years old conscripted;

(iv)    there are reasonable ground to believe that acts of murder, rape and sexual violence, torture and other inhuman acts of comparable gravity, outrages upon personal dignity, targeting of civilian objects and protected property, as well as other abuses, have been committed by both sides to the conflict;

(v)    based on the information available to the AUCISS, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the crime of genocide has been committed during the conflict that broke out in December 2013;
(vi)    fragility and weakness of all South Sudanese institutions, the lack of accountability, rampant cases of impunity and corruption, extreme ethnicization of politics and the military, as structural causes of the crisis, as well as historic divisions within the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) – including the 1991 Nasir crisis – and the manner in which top down unity was given priority over genuine reconciliation;

20.    Reiterates the AU’s condemnation of the violence and cruelty meted by the South Sudanese armed belligerents on the civilian population and the total indifference of the South Sudanese leaders to the suffering of their own people, as demonstrated by the findings of the AUCISS. Council stresses that the tragedy that took place in South Sudan is a scar on the conscience of Africa. Council notes the seriousness and diligence with which the report documents the wanton and shameful atrocities committed;  

21.    Decides that the recommendations of the AUCISS report and of the Separate Opinion, as reviewed by Council, shall inform the AU engagement in South Sudan and its interaction with its international partners;

22.    Further decides as follows on the recommendations made in the AUCISS and the Separate Opinion, bearing in mind the report submitted by the Peace and Security Council ad hoc sub-Committee referred to in paragraph 1 above and the relevant provisions of the Agreement reached by the South Sudanese parties:

(i)    On political and other reforms, Council decides as follows:

(a)    implementation by the South Sudanese stakeholders of all the required measures to build strong, accountable, inclusive and efficient institutions, based on a review of past state-building efforts, to facilitate prioritization. These efforts should be accompanied by broader steps to accelerate development and increase the levels of literacy. International partners should better coordinate their efforts to avoid unnecessary duplication;

(b)    adequate devolution of resources, decision-making power and guarantees against undue interference in devolved units by the center, through the full implementation of the current Constitution until a new one is adopted;

(c)    establishment of a well-balanced system of separation of powers, with adequate checks and balances, including through empowering and strengthening the capacity of the legislatures, enhancing the judiciary and adherence to the culture of the rule of law;

(d)    implementation of a comprehensive security sector reform programme aligned with the constitutional commitment to create a diverse national army under effective centralized command, as well as review of the legal framework governing the South Sudan National Police Service (SSNPS), and steps to create modern and streamlined police service and other relevant services;

(e)    development of a national strategy for resource management, taking into account environmental issues and community needs, the management of Government revenues and wider economic concerns, and commitment to the implementation of the provisions of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act Relating to Future Generations Fund, amongst others;

(ii)    On accountability, Council agrees as follows:

(a)    the establishment by the AU Commission of an independent hybrid judicial court, the Hybrid Court of South Sudan (HCSS), in accordance with Chapter V (3) of the Agreement reached by the South Sudanese parties, as an African-led and Africa-owned legal mechanism, “to investigate and prosecute individuals bearing the responsibility for violations of international law and/or applicable South Sudanese law, committed from 15 December 2013 through the end of the transitional period”. Council requests the Chairperson of the Commission to take all necessary steps towards  the establishment of the HCSS, including providing broad guidelines relating to the location of the HCSS, its infrastructure, funding and enforcement mechanisms, the applicable jurisprudence, the number and composition of judges, privileges and immunities of Court personnel and any other related matters;

(b)    an appropriate role should be fashioned for traditional justice and conflict resolution mechanisms, to be established in relationship with formal accountability processes, as well as peace and reconciliation efforts, as aligned with constitutional principles and democratic ethos, bearing in mind that South Sudanese traditional justice mechanisms combine retributive and restorative remedies, including payment of compensation in modes acceptable to litigants;

(c)    support, as appropriate, to the establishment of the Compensation and Reparation Authority (CRA) and to the Compensation and Reparation Fund (CRF), as provided for in Chapter V (4) of the Agreement;
(iii)    On healing and reconciliation:
(a)    implementation by the parties of immediate steps, to ensure the return of refugees and internally displaced persons and facilitate their resettlement, reintegration and rehabilitation, as well as humanitarian access, in accordance with Chapter III of the Agreement;

(b)    establishment of a specific national process to provide a forum for South Sudanese to engage with their history and the related and often competing narratives, to discover the truth about the conflicts and human rights violations of the past to attend the needs of the victims, as a way to foster healing, peace and reconciliation in South Sudan and to forge a common narrative around which a new South Sudan can orient its future. Such a process should involve and include women as key stakeholders. In this respect, Council welcomes and supports the establishment of the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation, and Healing (CTRH), as provided for in Chapter V(2) of the Agreement, and requests the Chairperson of the Commission to provide the necessary support, working with the relevant South Sudanese authorities and international partners;  

(c)    the establishment of a framework for memorialization to honor the victims of human rights abuses, as well as acknowledge the past, as part of the broader process of preventing the recurrence of abuses, it being understood that such a process should be inclusive and participatory;

23.    Underlines the imperative for the South Sudanese leaders to thoroughly study the report and fully internalize it, as part of the necessary introspection and critical assessment of their deeds and failures, in order to lay the ground for political and social renewal and legitimacy;

24.     Underscores the need for South Sudan to forge a national political compact for nation and state building, informed by shared vision and values, inclusivity and sense of national and strategic belonging amongst all South Sudanese stakeholders and communities. In this respect, Council supports the continuation of the Arusha process towards the reunification of the SPLM, facilitated by the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), the African National Congress (ANC), the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and the National Resistance Movement (NRM);

25.    Requests the Chairperson of the Commission  to release the AUCISS report and the Separate Opinion, for public information;

26.    Requests the Chairperson of the Commission to support the follow-up and implementation of this Communiqué and to mobilize the required human and financial resources to this end. Council further requests the Chairperson of the Commission to significantly enhance the AU Liaison Office in South Sudan and to upgrade it to the level of a Mission, along the lines of the AU Mission for Mali and Sahel (MISAHEL), with the following mandate: (i) monitor political, security, humanitarian and human rights, as well as socio-economic developments in South Sudan, and interact regularly with the South Sudanese authorities and other stakeholders; (ii) support the implementation of the relevant provisions of this Communiqué, as well as the work of the AU High Representative for South Sudan and that of the AU High-Level ad hoc Committee on South Sudan; (iii) assist, as appropriate, the implementation process of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan; (iv) monitor and support the implementation, in South Sudan, of relevant decisions of the AU policy organs and other AU policies and programmes on peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction; (v) coordinate with IGAD, the UN, the EU and other relevant multilateral and bilateral partners; and (vi) undertake any other relevant related task;     

27.    Underlines that the situation in South Sudan and the challenges encountered in addressing it further highlight the need for an AU framework on national reconciliation and justice, building on relevant instruments and experiences, in order to guide efforts deployed at national, regional and continental levels to deal with the challenge of conflicts, bearing in mind African specificities. Council looks forward to the early finalization of such a framework through a Commission-wide consultations, for consideration by the relevant AU policy organs and subsequent dissemination to Member States and other stakeholders throughout the continent;  

28.    Calls on all AU Member States and partners to fully support the implementation of the Agreement and of this Communiqué, by providing the requisite political, financial, technical,  logistical and other support;

29.    Requests the Chairperson of the Commission to formally transmit the present Communiqué to the South Sudanese stakeholders, as well as to the UN Security Council and Secretary-General, as well as to other AU partners, in order to mobilize their support to the African-led efforts to promote lasting peace, security, stability, justice, reconciliation and healing in South Sudan;

30.    Decides to terminate the mandate of the AUCISS and requests the Chairperson of the Commission to take all steps required to this effect;

31.    Requests the Chairperson of the Commission to submit quarterly reports on the implementation status of  the present communiqué;

32.    Decides to remain seized of the matter.

Posted by Shiferaw Degefa

Last updated by Limi Mohammed

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