By Ayen Bior
The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution Tuesday to renew sanctions against South Sudan’s leaders for another year. They include travel bans and asset freezes on persons believed to have impeded the peace and stability of the country.
The Security Council’s meeting to renew the resolution on South Sudan’s sanctions lasted only 20 minutes, but the vote means the sanctions will be extended until the end of May 2017.
Addressing the Council shortly after the vote, David Pressman, the alternate representative of the United States to the United Nations for Special Political Affairs, said the renewal should send a clear message to policy makers and political leaders in Juba.
“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,” he said.
In late April, after South Sudan’s First Vice President Riek Machar returned to Juba, Donald Booth, the U.S. special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, testified before the U.S. Congress, saying the administration is “prepared to employ any measure, to include sanctions and an arms embargo” on the leaders of South Sudan. Pressman echoed those remarks, adding that the situation in South Sudan has been fluid, and that much work lies ahead.
“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 necessitate,” he said.
Joseph Moum Majak Ngor Malok, the U.N. representative for South Sudan, reiterated his country’s frustration with the resolution, insisting that the government has made progress in implementing the peace agreement, and warning that the sanctions regime could reverse that work.
“We note with great disappointment that the resolution adopted today failed to recognize the sovereign right of the government of South Sudan to exercise its national constitution right to govern and manage its affairs,” he said.
Russia, one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, voted to adopt the resolution, but Russian representative Peter Iliichev noted his country’s uneasiness about broadening the sanctions regime.
“We have expressed our concern that excessive pressure and particularly sanctions pressure could undermine what has been achieved and toughen the positon of the South Sudanese parties,” he said.
Pressman said he is particularly concerned about reports from the U.N. Panel of Experts on South Sudan describing how arms continue to make their way into the country.
“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,” he said.
A recent report by Human Rights Watch named the SPLA’s Lt. Gen. Gabriel Jok Riak and Maj. Gen. Santino Deng Wol, as being partially responsible for spreading the violence in recent months to the western region of South Sudan, which had been relatively calm. Both men have been on the U.N.’s sanctions list since July 2015 for breach of the cessation of hostilities agreement and violations of international humanitarian law.
Pressman said the Security Council has asked for a special report from the Panel of Experts on arms procurement since the formation of the transitional government of national unity.