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Strategy To Break Out of the Spiral Needed for South Sudan

The metastasizing crisis in South Sudan urgently requires a new strategy for achieving a sustainable peace.  Conditions on the ground are unbearable for large swathes of South Sudan’s population and regional peacemaking efforts are not delivering results. According to USAID, “six million people — more than half the population — are facing life-threatening hunger this year, the most food-insecure year in South Sudan’s history.”

The U.S. government recently took strong action against some of those causing the crisis by sanctioning three senior South Sudanese individuals and three companies linked to their corruption. The administration also took a significant step to fight money laundering from South Sudan by issuing an advisory to alert U.S. financial institutions to conduct additional scrutiny and ensure prompt reporting of suspicious financial transactions stemming from transaction connected to senior political figures in South Sudan.  This was a welcome step, though much more will be required to change the calculations of the warring leaders in South Sudan and their commercial facilitators.

The administration should continue to increase pressure on South Sudanese leadership and their business associates inside and outside South Sudan through the use of network sanctions (i.e., sanctions applied not just to individuals targets, but to the target’s business partners, proxies, and companies that they own or control.). U.S. officials should work with banks to target money laundering and freeze out of the international financial system government and rebel leaders involved in human rights abuses and corruption, along with their commercial collaborators. These financial tools can work – but only if they are robustly enforced. By using these financial tools, the international community can create leverage over the kleptocrats who have hijacked the South Sudanese government for their personal enrichment and are responsible for the ongoing war.

In conjunction with increasing financial pressure,the peace process must be reinvigorated. The current Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS), negotiated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and signed in August 2015, is clearly not working. The architecture of peacemaking should be revised, with the African Union and United Nations taking a more direct, hands-on role, in collaboration with IGAD, in a process that includes a broad range of South Sudanese constituents. Such participants can represent a range of different interests and grievances within the population, and not just the narrow interests of government and rebel political and military leaders. The peace process should not only include a broader range of people but also include a broader range of the issues that matter most to South Sudanese people. The peace process should also include opposition leader Riek Machar, who represents a notable constituency and should not be isolated.

Join us in urging the State Department to follow these two strategic pillars to promote peace in South Sudan:

.@State must address deteriorating situation in #SouthSudan; use leverage from actions against corrupt leaders to revive peace efforts