Speech by Minister of State Werner Hoyer in the Bundestag on extending German participation in the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)

21.09.2011 - Speech

Mr President, Members of this House,

On 9 July South Sudan became an independent state, a state, however, whose institutions are still at the fledgling state and whose economic and social infrastructure is still under-developed. Building these institutions and infrastructure will take many years and require tremendous efforts on the part of South Sudan as well as active support from the international community.

In parts of South Sudan, moreover, political, economic and ethnic factors have triggered internal conflicts that continue to be fought out by force of arms. As South Sudan strives to build viable government institutions and stability, it therefore has to overcome a whole series of obstacles.

To support South Sudan on its chosen path and at the request of the Juba Government, the United Nations on 8 July 2011 established the United Nations Mission in South Sudan or UNMISS. The Mission’s core tasks are to assist the Government of South Sudan in the area of peace consolidation and thereby foster longer-term state-building and economic development. UNMISS is supporting efforts to ensure security, establish the rule of law and strengthen the security and justice sector.

The Mission has a robust mandate. That means its personnel are authorized to use also force if necessary to defend themselves, to ensure the safety of humanitarian personnel and to protect the civilian population.

Germany has participated in UNMISS since the start of its mandate. And I would like to take this opportunity to offer the Members of this House my heartfelt thanks in this connection. Thanks to their flexibility and good will, on 8 July, just before the start of the summer recess, the mandate authorizing Germany’s participation was approved by a very large majority. Because of the special urgency of the situation, the German Government had initially requested a mandate for only three months. Now we’re requesting a mandate for the period up to 15 November 2012, to run in parallel with other relevant mandates.

Four parliamentary groups in this House are united in their support for this mandate. This I find remarkable. Only THE LEFT takes the view that Germany should not be involved in assisting this young, struggling and still fragile state. That, too, is remarkable.

Germany’s participation in UNMISS is part and parcel of the Government’s longstanding efforts, in line with its concept for the region, to promote lasting solutions to the conflicts in the Sudan and South Sudan. Flanked by a major German engagement in the development and diplomatic field, this is a further example of what we mean by “networked security”.

Security and stability, civil and economic development – all this requires common endeavour and a holistic approach. Development won’t happen unless all these aspects are successfully tackled. Stability can be built only if people see tangible improvements in their own lives. That’s what we’re trying to achieve. This is why we’re very keen for the United Nations to have a continued presence in South Sudan.

Currently we have 13 German soldiers serving at the Mission’s headquarters in Juba and as liaison officers on the ground. They’re doing a fine job under very difficult circumstances. And here in this House I’d like to express the nation’s gratitude for what they’re doing.

On the legal basis of the UN Security Council resolution, they’re to be joined by up to 50 more German servicemen and servicewomen. For the foreseeable future, however – in contrast to what was originally planned – UNMISS will not have any role in monitoring the border between the Sudan and South Sudan. Since there’s no longer any need for the military observer component envisaged in the initial mandate, this component does not feature in the mandate we’re now requesting.

Mr President, Members of this House, we want to see a stable South Sudan and conflict-free relations between Juba and Khartoum. We’re ready to make a concrete contribution towards achieving this goal. We do so because we realize that the integrity and viability of the young state of South Sudan is something which is very important.

This is the first new state to be founded in Africa since 1993, when Eritrea seceded from Ethiopia. What began at first peacefully turned into a bitterly fought war, let’s remember, which claimed thousands, even ten thousands of lives. To this day both countries have failed to recognize the demarcation of their common border and to this day on both sides of that border tens of thousands of heavily armed soldiers remain deployed. That should not, must not be what awaits the Sudan and South Sudan.

Although the process by which the two states have gone their separate ways has been peaceful, a range of issues still remain to be settled which have considerable potential for conflict. Even at this late stage no final agreement has yet been reached on the demarcation of their common border and hence also access to and the exploitation of commodities. The worrying clashes that have taken place in the southern provinces of the Sudan and the continuing problems in Darfur as well as the tribal fighting in South Sudan, in which already over 2000 people have died this year – all this is fuelling fires that must be contained and put out before they spread elsewhere.

Given all the problems the young South Sudan state faces, it’s important to remember that early this year the South conducted its referendum on independence peacefully and in accordance with the rules. The process of seceding from the North was completed without any major disputes arising. The President of the Republic of the Sudan was an invited guest at the ceremony at which the Republic of South Sudan was proclaimed. That’s more than many observers a year ago would have believed possible.

The negotiations on outstanding issues will continue in Addis Ababa under the watchful eye of the international community. This will, we hope, encourage the authorities in Juba to build on what has already been achieved. And that should be reason enough for the international community to continue to live up to its responsibility towards South Sudan.

Germany will remain actively engaged in this endeavour. The Mission has an important role to play in building peace and stability in the region. For this reason the Bundestag should, I hope with the minimum of changes, approve the extension of the mandate. On behalf of the German Government, I request its approval accordingly.

Thank you very much.

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