UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] called Tuesday for the governments of Sudan and South Sudan [BBC backgrounders] to cease the recent violence [press release] which has led to civilian casualties on both sides. Pillay emphasized that both governments have an obligation under international human rights and humanitarian law to guarantee protection for civilians. Pillay expressed alarm at South Sudan's invasion of the oil-producing region of Heglig, along with reports of an increase of militia in Abyei:
These are very worrying reports and I call on all parties to work to avoid an escalation of armed confrontation, bearing in mind the dire human rights and humanitarian consequences for civilians. After so many decades of internal conflict, the Sudanese and South Sudanese know all too well the tragic consequences of large-scale violence and displacement and their long-lasting impact on the enjoyment of human rights. I urge the political leadership on both sides to fulfill their obligations under international human rights and international humanitarian law by exercising restraint and ensuring the protection of civilians.Pillay urged a renewed commitment to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement [text] from both sides and supported the call from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] for a presidential summit.
The Republic of South Sudan was recognized as an independent country [JURIST report] in July 2011, making it the world's 193rd nation. In February 2011, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], who campaigned against secession, issued a formal decree [JURIST report] accepting the result of the referendum. However, tensions between the newly independent country and Sudan remain high. The UN has been closely monitoring the violence and providing humanitarian relief [UN News Centre report] to victims of attacks in South Sudan but has called on the government to take control of the situation. In November 2011, Pillay called for an investigation of an aerial bombing of a refugee camp in South Sudan [JURIST report] by an Antonov plane often used by northern Sudan. In June 2011, a UN official denounced continued human rights abuses [JURIST report] against civilians in the region. The UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs [official website] and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos [official profile] said that the UN knows of more than 70,000 people who have been displaced by the conflict, many of whom are subject to violence and targeting due to their ethnic heritage.