United Nations: United Nations peacekeepers in South Sudan have a robust new mandate and thousands of additional troops despite government opposition to the move, raising the possibility of clashes between blue helmets and the country's armed forces.
The Security Council on Saturday approved a US-drafted resolution granting expanded powers to peacekeepers, requiring them to use "all necessary means" to protect UN personnel and installations and to take "proactive" measures to protect civilians from threats. The resolution also adds an additional 4,000 soldiers from Africa nations, bringing the peacekeeping force's troops to around 17,000.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan, or UNMISS, has been criticised for failing to protect civilians when UN sites came under attack last month. It has also been accused of failing to intervene in cases where government forces allegedly committed rapes outside UN camps.
The vote was 11 in favor with Russia, China, Venezuela and Egypt abstaining. Those abstaining cited concerns over the Security Council's failure to obtain South Sudan's consent for the regional protection force that would patrol around Juba, the capital.
South Sudan's Ambassador Akuei Bona Malwal told the council his country rejected the resolution because it failed to consider his country's views.
"The adoption of this resolution goes against the basic principle of UN peacekeeping operations which is the consent of the main parties to the conflict and also goes against the UN Charter," Malwal said.
"Consent of South Sudan to the mandate and operational modalities of the protection force outlined in the resolution would have been important as it would have given the force all the necessary freedoms to carry out the outlined mandated tasks."
US deputy ambassador David Pressman said he was aware of South Sudan's reservations.
"We recognise that the government of South Sudan, which has agreed to the protection force in principle, has and continues to express a number of concerns on the modalities of the resolution. That's why the resolution keeps an eye toward continued conversation with the government," Pressman said.
In South Sudan, Presidential Spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said his country was not prepared to accept the 4,000 troops unless their mandate was limited to the protection of peace monitors, humanitarian agencies and internally displaced persons.
"Unless they are coming to invade South Sudan, we are a sovereign country. If the whole world has decided to make us a protectorate, we will see from there," Ateny said. "If we do not cooperate they cannot come."