Human Rights Watch Association Director Calls On African Governments To Implement the UN Arms Embargo on South Sudan

July 19th, 2018(Nyamilepedia) —- Jehanne Henry, the Associate Director of Africa Division at the UN Human Rights Watch, casts doubts on whether the African Governments will fully implement the recently imposed UN arms embargo to curve South Sudan’s civil war that is generating the largest humanitarian crisis in the continent.

Jehanne Henry, the Associate Director of Africa Division at the UN Human Rights Watch(Photo credit: Jehanne profiles)

Jehanne Henry, the Associate Director of Africa Division at the UN Human Rights Watch(Photo credit: Jehanne profiles)

“Will regional governments take a different tack with the arms embargo? As members of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a regional bloc, these countries have invested in bringing an end to the atrocities. If they really want to protect South Sudan’s civilians, they need to enforce the embargo and cooperate with the UN panel of experts to show they are doing so.” Questions the UN Human Rights Watch Associate, Jehanne Henry

For the last two years many powerful nations including the United States, UK and allies have sanctioned South Sudanese politicians and military generals; however, none of these sanctions has been imposed so far giving the South Sudanese warlords freedom to continue the deadly civil war as usual.

Both the South Sudanese chief of Gen. Staff, Lt. Gen. Jok Riak, who command the war, and the government spokesman and deputy chief negotiator, Gen. Michael Makuei Lueth, have both been sanctioned and traveled banned by the United States, Canada and European Union; however, the region and the rest of the continent continue to give them diplomatic visas to tour their countries.

Based on previous trends, Ms.Henry believes that the UN arms  embargo may end up like a mirage in a desert given that the previous UN sanctions which were imposed on individuals have never been enforced by South Sudan’s neighboring countries.

“The embargo sends a message to the warring parties in South Sudan: The world is fed up with the abuses against civilians and will hold its leaders to account. It is now up to regional neighbors like Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, and Uganda to ensure implementation. To date, these countries have not enforced UN sanctions against the eight South Sudanese men currently subject to travel bans and asset freezes.” Ms. Henry continued.

Jehanne also blames the world body, the United Nations Security Council, for having taken too long to impose these arms embargo despite that human rights violations, war crimes and displacement of civilians became apparent right from the beginning of the conflict in December 2013.

When the scale of atrocities became apparent in the months after the fighting broke out in December 2013, Human Rights Watch called for a comprehensive arms embargo; 

For over four years we worked with South Sudanese and international partners to press for UN action. The UN panel of experts, set up to monitor the sanctions regime imposed on South Sudan in 2015, called for an arms embargo in each of its reports documenting the sale and transfer of weapons – including attack helicopters and amphibious tanks” she said.

Awarding Côte d’Ivoire for Supporting the Motion;

Out of all the African countries that attended the UNSC session that eventually adopted arms embargo on South Sudan only the West African nation, the Ivory Coast also known as Côte d’Ivoire, voted in favor of arms embargo on South Sudan. The rest abstained.

Ms. Henry believes that Côte d’Ivoire deserves a gold medal for sympathizing with South Sudanese civilians and victims of the civil war unlike the rest of African countries that supported the brutal regime that kills and displaces their own people.

“Last week, after years of growing frustration over failed efforts to end the war, the UN security council narrowly voted to pass the resolution. Côte d’Ivoire, the only African government to vote yes, deserves special credit for this and other positive action in the council. The six abstentions included Ethiopia, whose ambassador cited “progress” in the peace process, and China, who has sold weapons to South Sudan in the past” she added.

Ms. Henry calls on East African regional bloc, IGAD, and the African Union to work in the best interest of South Sudanese civilians by enforcing the arms embargo and sanctions on South Sudanese officials, fueling the conflict, to bring the war to an end.

“If they really want to protect South Sudan’s civilians, they need to enforce the embargo and cooperate with the UN panel of experts to show they are doing so.” Jehanne Henry concludes.

The Human Rights Watch has been documenting and reporting war crimes and crimes against humanitarian in South Sudan for the last four and a half years, however, it remains to be seen if the UNSC and other bodies will hold the South Sudanese rebels turned politicians accountable for defying world’s order.

South Sudan gained her independence from Sudan in 2011 after 55 years of civil war, however, the former guerrilla warlords that led the country to independence returned the country to war in 2013.

The 7 year-old nation has spent 5 years in a tribal civil war that fits President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, against his former deputy Riek Machar, a Nuer.

The war has displaced more than 4 millions people and killed about 300 thousands people within the last four and half years.