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Open Letter on U.S. Engagement in South Sudan’s Peace Process

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Open Letter on U.S. Engagement in South Sudan’s Peace Process

Posted by John Prendergast on March 13, 2015

Editor's Note: The letter below, from Enough Project Founding Director John Prendergast, was released today. The letter, directed at Secretary of State John Kerry, Ambassador Susan Rice, and Ambassador Samantha Power, supports the U.S. Government's ongoing efforts and proposes specific steps for enhancing engagement toward the current South Sudan peace process.

March 13, 2015

Dear Secretary Kerry, Ambassador Rice, and Ambassador Power,

Thank you for your continued concern for and commitment to the people of South Sudan.

The recent formation of the IGAD Plus peace initiative is a last-ditch emergency effort to forge a political settlement to avert a broadly escalated conflict.  Nonetheless, strategic and enhanced U.S. engagement at this juncture has the potential to be catalytic.  We offer three steps that could improve the odds of diplomatic success.

First, the Enough Project stands with others in the NGO community who urge Secretary Kerry to participate directly in the IGAD Plus initiative’s mediation process.  Secretary Kerry’s personal involvement in past diplomatic efforts related to South Sudan have helped move the ball forward and have been well-received.  Ensuring that Secretary Kerry’s engagement is closely coordinated with any engagement by the Chinese Foreign Minister would have even greater impact.  That high-level diplomacy could be accompanied by additional technical and diplomatic support to the peace proposal drafting process currently underway in Addis Ababa, building on the existing efforts of Ambassador Booth and his team.

Second, an intelligence gathering surge – focused on tracing the assets of those most responsible for mass atrocities and senior officials on both sides of South Sudan’s conflict who obstruct a peace deal – would support the full implementation of the sanctions called for in UN Security Council Resolution 2206.  The momentum generated by the unanimous passing of the sanctions resolution for South Sudan should be leveraged to quickly put in place the Sanctions Committee and UN-appointed Panel of Experts necessary to make specific designations.  These efforts would send an important signal to the warring parties that divisions on the Council will not avert sanctions enforcement.  Until now, the leaders on both sides have faced no consequence for their actions.  The parties need to know that the U.S. will lead a global effort to increase financial pressure on those that fund and fuel the conflict to ensure the South Sudanese people are not the only ones to bear the cost of war.  Finally, the U.S. should utilize the full range of financial measures available, including global anti-money laundering and anti-corruption initiatives that have yet to be deployed in service of an atrocity prevention agenda.

Third, beyond power and wealth sharing issues, which currently preoccupy the warring parties, the draft agreement being prepared by the mediators should also address a timetable for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from the country, punitive measures for the delivery of arms that stoke the conflict, and a timetable for the release of the AU Commission of Inquiry report accompanied by a commitment to establish a hybrid court to end impunity for human rights violations, war crimes, and crimes against humanity committed in the past fifteen months.

My colleagues and I would gladly provide more detail for any of these recommendations.

John Prendergast, Enough Project


Download the PDF of the letter.