U.S. Mission Explains Why Sanctions, Arms Embargo and Hybrid Court Must Be Imposed On South Sudanese Leaders

By Amb. David Pressman
Alternate Representative to the UN for Special Political Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations

Ambassador David Pressman, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations for Special Political Affairs(Photo: UNSC)

Ambassador David Pressman, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations for Special Political Affairs(Photo: UNSC)

May 31, 2016(Nyamilepedia) ——- Thank you, Mr. President. The Security Council has watched the situation in South Sudan particularly closely over these last three months. In early March, as the targeted sanctions established by Resolution 2206 were due to be renewed, the Council extended them for 45 days. We proposed this somewhat unconventional approach because we wanted to keep the fluid situation on the ground under continuous review.

In early April, seeing some tentative signs of progress but still no national unity government, the Council extended the sanctions for another short period, and simultaneously adopted a presidential statement reinforcing the steps the Security Council expected the parties to take.

We expressed our intention to review progress on those benchmarks before the Security Council considered next steps on the sanctions regime. Finally, just over a month ago, the Transitional Government of National Unity was formed, fulfilling a key provision of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan. Obviously, however, much, much more remains to be done.

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While we have now adopted a resolution extending the sanctions framework for a year, we will be no less vigilant or focused on South Sudan as we have been for the last 90 days, and we will be no less prepared to augment or modify the sanctions regime as the situation on the ground demands and the conduct of the parties necessitates. We have all watched too much bloodshed in South Sudan.

We have watched leaders prioritize power over peace and we have watched the very real human consequences of their craven policies. As the Secretary-General stated, the people of South Sudan have “been betrayed by those who put power and profit over people.” He went on to refer to “epic corruption.”

There is no time to delay tackling these challenges. Now is the time to fully implement the peace agreement, which, as the Security Council has emphasized today, includes establishing the hybrid court and the mechanisms outlined in Chapter 5 of the agreement in order to hold accountable those whose actions have cost so many – too many – lives needlessly. Today’s resolution should remind South Sudan’s leaders that there is no other path and no other choice but full and expeditious implementation of the peace agreement.

The return of Riek Machar, his appointment as the First Vice President, and the subsequent formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity are indeed significant steps forward, but they are only the beginning of a long path towards peace and healing and a long path towards justice. So long as there continues to be no meaningful progress on the other core elements of the peace agreement – which includes upholding the ceasefire, improving humanitarian access, and ending attacks on humanitarians – the severe suffering of the millions of South Sudanese impacted by this conflict continues.

To convey a sense of the scale of this suffering, a report from the United Nations Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan stated that in just five counties in South Sudan’s Unity state, there were over 7,000 violent deaths in a single year. In just five counties, in just one state of South Sudan, in just one year, there were as many violent deaths as there have been in all of Yemen since March of 2015. A survey by UNDP also found that the levels of post-traumatic stress disorder are on par with some of the worst conflict zones in modern history.

The leaders of South Sudan must redouble their efforts to build a better future for their people by fully implementing the peace agreement, including the four reform pillars: drafting and adopting a permanent constitution, restructuring the security sector, establishing transparent management of public finances, and advancing transitional justice, including meaningful reconciliation and accountability.

At the same time, we, as members of the Security Council, must renew our commitment to carefully monitor the situation in South Sudan, including information we receive from the Panel of Experts about the arms flow that pose such a serious threat to the success of the peace agreement and the stability of South Sudan and the region. In light of the Panel of Experts reporting that the parties were continuing to acquire arms even after they signed the peace agreement, the Security Council today – significantly, in this resolution – has asked for a special report from the Panel of Experts on arms procurement since the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity. We must continue to watch this closely and we must continue to uphold our responsibility to use the full range of tools available to us when such action is necessary for the maintenance of international peace and security.

I thank you.

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