South Sudan: Vigilance Urged After Peace Agreement Signed

United to End Genocide, a U.S. based human rights advocacy group, welcomed the signing of a peace deal in South Sudan by President Salva Kiir, but warned that international attention needs to be maintained to ensure that peace sticks.

Former U.S. Congressman Tom Andrews, President of United to End Genocide, stated:

“The signing of a peace deal is a welcome and long overdue flicker of hope amid immense ongoing suffering in South Sudan. But only the continued threat of an arms embargo and targeted sanctions will give the agreement a chance to succeed.

Regional and global attention and pressure opened the door to peace, but true celebration can only come once concrete measures have been taken to stop the violence, reduce arms, and provide humanitarian aid to the 70 percent of the population that is facing hunger in the coming months. The U.S. and international community must stand at the ready to provide critical help to help avert hunger, monitor the peace, and support the building of democratic institutions.

A turn of the pen will not address ongoing suffering and the atrocities that have already occurred. While South Sudan’s leaders smile in front of the cameras, the UN’s top humanitarian official reports on horrible atrocities include rape and burning and abduction of children.

Accountability mechanisms for the atrocities that have been committed will be a crucial part of the quest for peace moving forward. The activists and political actors who have helped build up to this decisive moment should celebrate but remain vigilant to ensure that it is more than just a glimmer of hope.”

Background: Tens of thousands of people have been killed and over 2 million displaced since violence broke out in South Sudan in December 2013. The IGAD plus group of mediators, made up of a regional group of South Sudan’s neighbors and global powers including the United States and China, had warned of targeted sanctions and an arms embargo if an agreement was not signed by August 17th.

Opposition leader and former Vice President Riek Machar signed the deal on that day, but President Kiir asked for an additional 15 days. The deal calls for a ceasefire within 3 days and a transitional government within 90 days leading to elections in 2018.