Arms Embargo Warnings, Punitive Actions Counterproductive to Peace Process, Permanent Representative Stresses
By United Nations,
Expressing deep concern at the security situation in South Sudan and the possibility of an outright ethnic war, the Security Council this afternoon extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to 15 December 2017, strengthening its mandate with additional powers to protect civilians while expressing its intention to consider sanctions against those whose actions undermined peace, stability and security in the country.
Unanimously adopting resolution 2327 (2016), the Council reiterated its increasingly grave alarm and concern regarding the political, security, economic and humanitarian crisis in South Sudan resulting from a political dispute within the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and subsequent violence caused by the country’s political and military leaders.
By the text, and acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Council demanded that all parties immediately end the fighting throughout South Sudan, and that the country’s leaders implement a permanent ceasefire declared in the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan signed in August 2015.
It demanded that the Transitional Government of National Unity of South Sudan comply with the obligations set out in the Status of Forces Agreement between the Government of South Sudan and the United Nations, and immediately cease obstructing UNMISS in the performance of its mandate. Furthermore, it demanded that the Transitional Government immediately cease obstructing international and national humanitarian actors from assisting civilians.
The Council also authorized UNMISS to use “all necessary means” to protect civilians under threat of physical violence, to deter violence against civilians, to implement a Mission-wide early warning strategy, to maintain public safety and security within UNMISS protection of civilian sites, and to deter and prevent sexual and gender-based violence.
As well, the 15-nation body authorized the Mission to monitor and investigate human rights abuses and violations, create conditions conducive to the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and support implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict.
The Council decided to increase the overall force levels of UNMISS by maintaining a troop ceiling of 17,000 troops, including 4,000 for a Regional Protection Force, and increasing the police ceiling to 2,101 police personnel. It authorized the Regional Protection Force to use all necessary means — including robust action where necessary — to accomplish its mandate.
In addition, the Council, while taking note of the Transitional Government’s announcement to conduct an inclusive national dialogue, also expressed its intention to consider “all appropriate measures, as demonstrated in resolutions 2206 (2015) and 2290 (2016), against those who took actions which undermined peace, stability and security in South Sudan. It stressed the sanctity of United Nations protection sites and specifically underscored that those involved in attacks against UNMISS personnel and premises, or any humanitarian personnel, may meet designation criteria set out in resolution 2206 (2015).
South Sudan was being threatened with civil war, warned the representative of the United States, adding that resolution 2327 (2016) urged parties to return to the peace process. It also ensured that the Council would have the possibility to use sanctions. An arms embargo was called for and targeted sanctions would be an effective tool to send a message to leaders on both sides.
However, the representative of the Russian Federation pointed out, the resolution’s sponsors had, once again, not taken on board concerns of the Russian Federation, but instead had wanted to push through sanctions while ignoring the decisions of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) that sanctions were counterproductive.
The representative of South Sudan, while welcoming the renewal and extension of the Mission’s mandate, expressed his disappointment that the Council continued to deliberate on issues of peace and security without adequate consultations with the African region. Rather than negative threats of sanctions and punishment, South Sudan needed a positive and constructive agenda that included the return of security and stability, he stressed.
Also speaking were representatives of China, Egypt, Venezuela, Malaysia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Senegal, Angola, Uruguay and Spain.
The meeting started at 4:04 p.m. and adjourned at 4:55 p.m.
ISOBEL COLEMAN (United States) recalled that at a recent Security Council meeting with the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide had warned that South Sudan was at risk of genocide. Now, South Sudan was being threatened with civil war. Resolution 2327 (2016) urged parties to return to the peace process. It also ensured that the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) had the necessary tools to protect civilians. The resolution was focused on UNMISS having the right mandate and that the Council would have the possibility to use sanctions. An arms embargo was called for and targeted sanctions would be an effective tool to send a message to leaders on both sides.
PETR V. ILIICHEV (Russian Federation) said he had supported the resolution in order to continue efforts to return to the peace process. However, the sponsors had, once again, not taken on board concerns of the Russian Federation. As well, other delegations had pushed through their own priorities. They seemed to only “use the stick and not the carrots”. Despite positive developments, the sponsors wanted to push through sanctions and had ignored the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) decisions that sanctions were counterproductive. He emphasized that he could not agree to the future Hybrid Court in South Sudan, adding that it was unacceptable to use drones, given the objection of the South Sudan Government.
WU HAITAO (China) said the international community should take the opportunity to call on parties to implement the peace agreement. He welcomed the leading role of IGAD in mediating in the matter. The Council should send more positive messages to encourage the parties to meet halfway. As for sanctions, he stressed that the Council should act with prudence. While voicing support for the renewal of the Mission’s mandate, he added that it should implement the peace agreement and protect civilians. He also noted that in support of the peace process, China had provided some 1000 peacekeepers to the Mission.
AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) said that the Council, through its resolution, had reached a minimal level of consensus. That was the real political gain of the day. He firmly believed in sending a united message to South Sudan’s warring parties, he said, adding that the punitive approaches had proven ineffective. The Council should focus on reaching a political breakthrough and promoting dialogue. All parties in South Sudan bore responsibility for alleviating the suffering of its people. The international community’s patience and its understanding of the specificities in South Sudan did not mean acceptance of violence against civilians.
HENRY ALFREDO SUÁREZ MORENO (Venezuela) emphasized the need to preserve unity in the Council vis-à-vis South Sudan and the role of UNMISS. Negotiations did not address some concerns expressed by Venezuela, he said, including language on sanctions. He highlighted the position recently taken by countries in the region that an arms embargo would not bring peace, reiterating his position in favour of “African solutions to African problems”. The Council should join efforts to revitalize the political process in South Sudan and draw up a strategy with countries in the region.
RAMLAN BIN IBRAHIM (Malaysia) said that, through the resolution, UNMISS would be better equipped to continue playing a critical and pivotal role in South Sudan, including the protection of civilians. He expressed appreciation for the ongoing efforts of the Government and encouraged collaboration between the Government, UNMISS and the United Nations.
PHILLIP TAULA (New Zealand) said he welcomed consensus but would have preferred that there had been sufficient time for further discussion. The Council should have considered the mandate of UNMISS and should have included the special investigation by a task force into the Mandate. The most pressing task of the Mission was the protection of civilians and the support for the peace process. He asked for more meaningful consultation with troop-contributing countries and other stakeholders.
GORGUI CISS (Senegal) said he had voted in favour of the resolution, working in close cooperation with the delegation of the African Member States. A united approach was required in full cooperation with organizations and countries of the subregion, including exchanges with the African Union and IGAD. There must be an effective response to threats to civilians, as well as implementation of the peace agreement and the monitoring of human rights, he said, taking note of the Government’s decision to authorize a regional force.
PETER WILSON (United Kingdom), welcoming the unanimous adoption of the resolution, underscored that UNMISS was vital for the protection of civilians when they needed it most. In many ways, the Mission was charged with an impossible task: to keep the peace where there was no peace to keep, as violence was ongoing along ethnic lines. He called on all leaders to end the violence and to engage in an inclusive political solution. Warning that the conflict did not stop at the borders, he said neighbouring countries were host to a million refugees. The people of South Sudan were paying the highest price for the war and if the Government continued on its path, the Council had to act, including by applying sanctions and an arms embargo.
JULIO HELDER MOURA LUCAS (Angola), calling the situation in South Sudan a matter of great concern for the Security Council, expressed his full support for UNMISS, its leadership and staff. The main purpose of the text was to renew the Mission’s mandate for another 12 months. However, provisions about a sanctions regime and the management of a hybrid court to be established by the African Union remained issues of concern among Council members. The current situation in South Sudan should be address through meaningful political dialogue leading to a permanent ceasefire and, in turn, sustainable peace, he said, urging all parties to take necessary steps to protect civilians.
LUIS BERMÚDEZ (Uruguay) said it was urgent for the Security Council to renew its commitment to peace, security and stability in South Sudan. Although he had had no major objections to the text, he stated that he understood that concerns expressed by some members could have been taken into account during negotiations. Council members needed to have a frank and friendly talk about improving negotiating procedures in order to improve the quality of Council resolutions.
JUAN MANUEL GONZÁLEZ DE LINARES PALOU (Spain), Council President for December, spoke in his national capacity, saying that UNMISS was one of the most sorely needed peacekeeping missions. There had been indications that the conflict in South Sudan might well become a war along ethnic lines. Everyone present and the authorities in South Sudan needed to do their upmost to prevent the situation from deteriorating further, he said, emphasizing that it was essential for UNMISS to operate without restrictions in order to fulfil its mandate, protect civilians and distribute humanitarian assistance.
JOSEPH MOUM MAJAK NGOR MALOK (South Sudan) welcomed the renewal and extension of the mandate of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) for 12 months, during which time the Mission would be called upon to protect civilians, monitor human rights, create conditions conducive to the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and support the implementation of the peace agreement signed in August 2015. The situation had improved following the recent agreement of South Sudan to implement the Joint Transitional Government of National Unity-United Nations Security Council Communique of 4 September, which concerned the deployment of the Regional Protection Force.
However, he expressed his disappointment that the Council continued to deliberate on issues of peace and security without adequate consultations with the African region. The Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) Assembly of Heads of State and Government had held its twenty-ninth Extra-Ordinary Summit in December in Addis Ababa, where it noted that an arms embargo or sanctions on South Sudan would not provide the solution being sought to bring about permanent peace and stability. What was required was dialogue and commitment by all South Sudanese parties to implement the agreement.
The Government of South Sudan continued to oppose the negative threats of sanctions and punishment, which only undermined cooperation, he said. The call for an arms embargo and targeted sanctions on senior Government officials would only weaken the Government’s ability to execute its constitutional mandate. On 14 December, President Salva Kiir had reiterated his commitment to the implementing of the peace agreement, and had announced the launch of a national dialogue that would include all stakeholders.
He went on to say that the President had also recently declared a unilateral ceasefire, with instructions to the national army to fight only in self-defence. Amnesty had also been granted to those who had taken up arms against the State, and the Ministerial Committee of the Transitional Government of National Unity, charged with the implementation of the Joint Communique and resolution 2304 (2016), had been created. He also noted that President Kiir had established the National Planning Committee and the Humanitarian High-Level Committee.
Rather than negative threats of sanctions and punishment, South Sudan needed a positive and constructive agenda that included the return of security and stability, he stressed. As well, his country required nationwide peace and reconciliation efforts, the strengthening of the security sector and judiciary, and support on efforts to help get guns out of the hands of civilians.