UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein [official website] warned [statement] Wednesday that South Sudan “teeters on the brink of a disaster.” Speaking before the Human Rights Council Special Session on South Sudan [pres release], Zeid called for urgent action. “The highest priority must urgently be given to protection for those most at risk from killings, sexual violence and other serious human rights violations. And it is time for all national and regional actors to advocate decisively for a political process that is both inclusive and implemented on the ground.” Zeid also urged the Council “to call on South Sudan’s leaders to refrain from incitement to violence and ethnic hatred.” Yasmin Sooka, Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, said the international community could prevent a “Rwanda-like” genocide by immediately deploying 4,000 peacekeepers to protect civilians. The Council concluded the session by adopting a resolution [press release] condemning the ongoing violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and reaffirming the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan.
South Sudan, which gained independence in 2011, has spent most of its short history in civil war. The UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan warned last week that ethnic cleansing [JURIST report] is taking place in some areas of the country. Several South Sudanese organizations co-authored a letter [JURIST report] to the African Union Commission (AUC) [official website] last month concerning the creation of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan. The Hybrid Court, in conjunction with targeted sanctions and arms embargo, could aid in averting the armed conflict. South Sudan officials have said the country will take legal action against the US-based advocacy group, The Sentry [advocacy website], after a report [JURIST report] published by the group accused the nation’s leaders of profiting from the country’s violent three-year conflict.