The UN Security Council has played the role of fool for too long on South Sudan. The leaders of South Sudan continuously violate the rights of their citizens and yet the UN continues to allow atrocities to happen with few repercussions.
World leaders can no longer afford to stall on South Sudan. It is time for an arms embargo and additional targeted sanctions.
The actions of South Sudan’s leaders have led to the displacement of 2.3 million people over half a million of them children. Failure by the UN to take stronger action has contributed to severe food insecurity leaving people to not only be victims of the violence, but also victims of starvation.
The UN has watched numerous peace agreements and ceasefires turn into broken promises and hopes for peace. Threats of repercussions are made, while the leadership in South Sudan continues to cover their mistakes and convince the international community that they are looking for solutions to the problems.
Since the August 2015 Peace Agreement was signed, there have been minimal advancements towards creating the transitional government and improving the situation in South Sudan. It has been a slow and arduous 8 months as Salva Kiir and Riek Machar have taken minimal steps towards creating the transitional government.
It took months of delays and postponements before evidence could be seen that there is in fact a glimmer of hope for peace in South Sudan and this only came when threats of an arms embargo were made. Even the long-awaited return of Machar to Juba seems more a typical stall tactic than a reason to celebrate. With so many threats and dodged punishments there are plenty of grounds to be skeptical.
The President of the Security Council recently stated:
“The Security Council reiterates its intent to impose any sanctions that may be appropriate to respond to the situation, which may include an arms embargo and the designation of senior individuals responsible for actions or policies that threaten the peace, security or stability of South Sudan…”
Unless Machar’s return leads to real immediate progress toward a sustainable peace, it is time for those steps to be taken. Although an arms embargo may not be the perfect solution, it is what is needed for the time being. An arms embargo, though it will not stop the flow of all small arms into South Sudan, it will help stop the flow of larger weapons that have caused civilians to flee throughout the region in search of refuge.
This point has been cited by the UN Panel of Experts and they have recommended it. There is tangible proof of violence against civilians by government forces, as was seen in the 2016 attack on the UN Protection of Civilians site.
There is no reason to have people labeled as living in areas of famine, or people labeled as refugees or displaced persons. There is no reason why a child should not get to experience childhood due to war. There is no need to look at numbers of displaced, killed, hungry, and sick; the numbers are too large to comprehend.
The time is now for the UN to pick up the reigns and help South Sudan make the improvements needed to ensure that the violence comes to a complete halt and peace can be made.
Much effort will be needed to address the damage brought upon South Sudan by its leaders. The arms embargo is one step that is long past due.