As of 12 June 2014, South Sudan was a party to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their two Additional Protocols,but had yet to become a party to any of the corpus of UN human rights treaties.
At the time of Sudan’s Universal Periodic Review (the periodic review of a country’s human rights record by 47 members of the UN Human Rights Council) in May 2011, South Sudan was not yet an independent country. However, some members of the delegation of Sudan took part as representatives of South Sudan. Some of the recommendations put forward during the review were accordingly addressed to South Sudan, or to Sudan and South Sudan both.
The South Sudanese representatives accepted the French recommendation to adhere to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two Optional Protocols, and the Italian recommendation to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty. The representatives of South Sudan, however did not respond to any of the recommendations put to both Sudan and South Sudan.
South Sudan’s treaty status is unclear. The table above reflects the information contained in the United Nations Treaty Collection, which indicates the formal deposition with the UN Secretary-General.
In its comments on the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in South Sudan, the government stated the following:
“The Government is committed to protection of human rights enshrined in all major international and regional human rights instruments. All these major international human rights treaties have been approved by the Council of Ministers and submitted to the National Legislative Assembly for ratification. Others are before the relevant Parliamentary Specialised Committees. The following have been ratified by the National Legislative Assembly:
(a) The Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment 1984;
(b) The Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989;
(c) The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights was adopted in 1981. It entered into force in 1986 and not in 1985 as indicated in the Report;
(d) The Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa 1969”.
On 21 October 2013, the National Legislative Assembly passed the bill to ratify the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, and on 20 November the bill to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child was passed.
In a letter of 31 October 2013 to the President of the UN General Assembly, South Sudan set out its voluntary pledge in support of its candidacy for election to the Human Rights Council for the term 2014-2016. The letter points out that the Council of Ministers of South Sudan has acceded to a package of treaties and submitted them to the legislative assembly for adoption, including: the ICCPR, ICESCR, CEDAW and its Optional Protocol, CERD, CRC, CAT, and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. The letter stresses that the limited list of instruments to which South Sudan is a party indicates the young age of the country and its limited capacity, and is not indicative of “a lack of will to adhere to international standards”.
- 1. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Sudan, UN Doc. A/HRC/18/16 (11 July 2011); UPR Info, Database of UPR Recommendations. http://www.upr-info.org/database/ (accessed 13 January 2014).↵
- 2. Chaloka Benayi, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons to the Human Rights Council, Addendum: Mission to South Sudan: comments by the State on the report of the Special Rapporteur, UN Doc. A/HRC/26/33/Add.5.↵
- 3. Letter dated 31 October 2013 from the Permanent Representative of South Sudan to the United Nations addressed to the President of the General Assembly, UN Doc. A/68/565 (31 October 2013), p. 4.↵