South Sudan’s civil war is a consequence of a power struggle between President Salva Kiir and former Vice-President Riek Machar and their respective supporters. Nine months into the deadly conflict, the parties remain committed to a military “solution,” despite repeated pledges to put down their weapons. Unless the calculations of the leaders of the warring parties are altered, the war will continue and likely intensify, further threatening the 1.7 million civilians displaced and 4 million at risk of starvation. A new Enough Project report by Sudan and South Sudan Policy Consultant Justine Fleischner, Spoils of War, Spoilers of Peace: Changing the Calculus on South Sudan’s Deadly Conflict, urges the international community to build economic leverage for peace by imposing consequences on the warring elites.
The application of a globally enforced targeted sanctions regime could change the calculus of parties and end impunity for mass atrocities, the obstruction of humanitarian aid, and violations of the cessation of hostilities agreement. While the United States and the European Union have already made limited sanctions designations against key military commanders on both sides, the impact of these unilateral measures has been insignificant since most South Sudanese elites’ wealth is concentrated in neighboring states. Although they have threatened punitive measures repeatedly, regional states, in particular Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia, have failed to impose targeted sanctions as a regional body in the interest of peace and security.
The paper concludes that, in the absence of regionally- and internationally-enforced targeted sanctions, the warring parties see no reason to adjust their behavior. Alongside a renewed push for regionally-led sanctions, deeper diplomatic engagement and stronger support for South Sudanese civil society are necessary in order to prevent a backroom deal brokered by regional heads of state that may temporarily freeze the conflict, but will not address the root causes of war in the world’s newest and perhaps most fragile state.
Targeted, biting sanctions and other focused pressures are the best hope for altering the calculations of the conflicting parties from war to peace. At the end of the current 45 day extension in mid-October, in the absence of a deal, it will be time to seize the homes, bank accounts and shell companies of anyone undermining the peace process or committing gross human rights abuses.”
– Enough Project Founding Director John Prendergast
The report makes seven key recommendations focused on the following three themes:
- Building leverage for a sustainable peace agreement and an end to mass atrocities
- Fixing the IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development)-led peace process
- Providing accountability and compensation to war-ravaged communities
Photo: In this May 2010 file photo Riek Machar, front left, and Salva Kiir, pay respects at the grave of late southern Sudanese rebel leader Dr. John Garang in Juba. AP Photo/Pete Muller-File