UNSC Extends South Sudan Arms Embargo Until May 2021

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted a resolution on Friday May 29th which extends until May of next year. The resolution implements an arms embargo, travel ban, and financial sanctions for the targets of the resolution. The goal of the resolution is to urge the leaders of South Sudan to fully transition the government and fully implement all the provisions established by the 2018 peace agreement.

According to Al-Jazeera, the resolution, drafted by the United States, received 12 votes on Friday, with abstentions from Russia, China, and South Africa. The UNSC, a 15-member body, will draft a report by the end of October detailing how the arms embargo serves to further the goals of the 2018 peace agreement. The report in October will also include benchmarks for recovery in South Sudan. The council also made plans for a meeting, to review these measures, to take place by December 15th. They expressed their “readiness to consider adjusting measures…including through modifying, suspending, lifting or strengthening.” The aim and hope of this new resolution is that it will encourage “developments in South Sudan’s peace process,” including the formation of a transitional government. The resolution condemns violations of the peace deal made in 2018.

The new resolution is aimed at furthering peace and stability in South Sudan, but also expressed “deep concern at continued fighting in South Sudan.” The documents condemns human rights violations, including “harassment and targeting of civil society, humanitarian personnel and journalists.” Additionally, the document expresses “deep concerns at the reports of misappropriation of funds that undermine the stability and security of South Sudan.”

Amnesty International’s director for East and Southern Africa, Deprose Muchena, supported the arms embargo by saying, “it is crucial to curtailing the flow of weapons that have been used to commit war crimes, human rights violations, abuses.” Deprose Muchena also said, “the human rights situation in South Sudan remains dire as government forces, fighters of armed opposition groups as well as armed youth continue to violate human rights on a daily basis… Many civilians continue to be killed and displaced from their homes, girls as young as eight have been gang-raped, and human rights defenders and journalists continue to be harassed and intimidated.”

The civil war in South Sudan is technically over, but the violence has not stopped. Despite more than one peace agreement, sanctions, and attempted weapons control, nothing seems to have eased the tensions. The country is currently operating under a transitional government and needs to finalize a new government according to the stipulations in the 2018 peace agreement. This resolution is a good step in making sure South Sudan is not let off the hook for their side of the peace agreement. It is clear, however, that South Sudan could use more aid in stopping the violence and human rights violations that run so rampant through the country. Currently, the violence and government does not allow unhindered humanitarian aid to be delivered to South Sudan. At the midterm meeting, plans should be put in place to deliver the needed and necessary aid when the new government allows it.

The region of South Sudan had been fighting for their independence pretty much since Sudan gained theirs in 1956. There have been two official Civil wars in Sudan, and South Sudan finally gained their independence in 2011. Many had hoped the violence would end with independence; but it did not.

The country then fell into ethnic violence in December of 2013, when people loyal to President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, began fighting those loyal to Riek Machar, who was Salva Kiir’s former vice president and belongs to the Nuer people. There have been numerous attempts at peace, including a attempt which made Machar vice president again, but all have failed. After increased pressure from the international community, the most recent peace deal from 2018 seems to be sticking, but it is not without its problems as the peace is very fragile. On February 22nd, 2018, Kiir and Machar formed a coalition government; they remain at odds over many issues, but their biggest is: who will govern the country’s ten states.

Violence has decreased significantly since the peace deal was signed and the ceasefire is being follow in many parts of the country. But the transitional government is still too new to bring any major peace resolutions to the people of South Sudan. According to Al-Jazeera, many members of the UNSC have major concerns about the way things are being dealt with in South Sudan. Russia, China, and South Africa have stated that sanctions are not conducive to promoting the peace process, which is why they abstained on the resolution. Peace is still to come, but minor strides are being made in South Sudan.