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Enough Project Statement: UN Security Council Must Act Now to Check Impunity in South Sudan

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Enough Project Statement: UN Security Council Must Act Now to Check Impunity in South Sudan

Posted by Enough Team on June 30, 2015

Today, the Enough Project released a statement calling on the UN Security Council to issue sanctions against human rights abusers in South Sudan. Read the full statement below or download the PDF version.

Wednesday will be a decisive day for the UN Security Council, as it seeks to help end the conflict and stop atrocities in South Sudan. Four months after the Council adopted its framework to allow for sanctions against human rights abusers and those obstructing the peace, its Sanctions Committee is finally considering six names. If no objection is raised before 3 PM tomorrow, UN sanctions against all six men will go into force globally.

Security Council sanctions are essential to combat the unchecked impunity that has come to define South Sudan's political environment. In addition to demonstrating the international community's united resolve to combat impunity, these sanctions can also help forge an enabling environment for peace negotiations. But if a veto or an objection stalls the imposition of these sanctions, the Council will miss a critical opportunity to affect outcomes and become less relevant to the search for a solution to the South Sudanese people's suffering.

Even as the Council considers these designations, South Sudanese government and rebel leaders, who are personally insulated from the suffering of their people, are fanning the flames of war. Adopting and enforcing a first round of sanctions against generals from both sides of the conflict puts elite personal financial interests at stake as well.The six named military commanders will be subject to both travel bans and asset freezes. This will make it a violation of international law for any country to allow these six — three from the government side and three from the opposition side — to cross international borders, access bank accounts, or gain material support.

The six named generals are not individually responsible for South Sudan's warring parties' failure to reach a viable and durable peace agreement. The responsibility for that lies in the hands of the high-level officials at the negotiating table. Nonetheless, each of the six has been tied to grave human rights abuses and indisputable violations of previous agreements to cease hostilities. Globally binding sanctions against these six military commanders are an important step forward.

Today, the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan issued a flash report confirming disturbing war crimes and acts of torture. One survivor told UN investigators that she was gang-raped alongside her neighbor by government soldiers in front of her three-year old child. In other cases, raped women were burned alive in their homes. Earlier this month, UNICEF warned that 13,000 child soldiers have been forced to participate in a conflict not of their making as children are aggressively being recruited into armed groups of both sides on an alarming scale. The facts show that women and children are disproportionately shouldering the consequences of war, while their leaders remain immune to the impact of their intransigence. If imposed swiftly and enforced effectively, targeted sanctions can help challenge that asymmetry.

Download the PDF version of the statement.

For more information, contact Policy Analyst Akshaya Kumar: akumar@enoughproject.org