The Enough Project calls on the UN, IGAD and the AU to follow their own recommendations and create consequences for the spoilers of South Sudan’s peace process
Washington DC – On Thursday May 31st, the UN Security Council voted to renew the sanctions regime on South Sudan for 45 days but refrained from sanctioning six high-level political and military leaders with command and control responsibilities pending a review of compliance to the Cessation of Hostilities (CoH) agreement signed at the recently concluded High Level Revitalization Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. While the fact that the Security Council will examine adherence to the CoH potentially means that the peace spoilers may be held accountable, it is important to note that the international community still lacks the leverage required to persuade the South Sudanese factions to accept peace in their country. Postponing or delaying the processes of holding high-level politicians accountable only helps to strengthen hardline positions among them.
The collapse of the latest round of peace talks to end the conflict in South Sudan last week exposes the profound lack of leverage that the IGAD sub-region and the broader international community presently have on the warring parties and the fatal shortcomings of the current mediation process. The government and the opposition were as far apart as could be on the major contentious issues on power sharing and security arrangements. An IGAD proposal to bridge the differences failed to appeal to the belligerents in the conflict and focused on short-term issues rather than the institutional reforms that the country needs. The proposal on the table is premised on a viewpoint that pegs the conflict to a fight over resources and power. It therefore assumes that a resolution is achievable solely by dividing political power and resources between the belligerents.
The belligerents on the other hand feel no pressure to sign a deal. This is partly because threats by IGAD, the AU, and other international actors to enact consequences on the spoilers in this conflict have not been followed through. Between the outbreak of the conflict in December 2013 and December 2017, the African Union issued 13 statements that threatened actions against violators of any of the truces signed so far. IGAD issued seven statements threatening action on the peace spoilers over the same time period. This year, IGAD released five statements that condemn and threaten action against violators of the peace process. Threats are meaningful and would be taken seriously only if the entities issuing them are willing to follow through with action. The absence of consequences for intransigence has emboldened the parties to the conflict.
The failure to reach an agreement means the warring parties in this conflict have extended the suffering of the South Sudanese people. Likewise, the delays and postponements in holding the warring parties accountable perpetuate the suffering of the South Sudanese. Nearly four million people have been displaced internally and externally. The country’s economy continues to deteriorate, exacerbating economic conditions for the average citizen. Thousands more have died due to the fighting and the war-induced humanitarian crisis. The UN estimates that 4.8 million people—about 45 percent of the population—needs humanitarian aid. Early this year, the UN also estimated that 5.1 million people, about 45 percent of the population, face acute food insecurity.
It is critical that the Security Council follows through on its word when it reviews compliance of the parties to the CoH at the end of the stipulated 45-day period. Most importantly, the African Union must show leadership in ensuring that there are costs, rather than impunity.
John Prendergast, Founding Director at the Enough Project, said: “As far as IGAD and the AU are concerned, South Sudan is an accountability-free war zone. Without leverage, the next round of peace talks have no chance of succeeding. And leverage comes through action, in the form of escalating targeted sanctions against the networks fueling and benefiting from war. Only biting financial and legal pressure focused on the government and rebel leaders who have torn the world’s newest country apart and their commercial collaborators could possibly alter current calculations that favor war, instability and chaos over peace, democracy, and the rule of law. IGAD and the AU should follow through on their own threats and create consequences for the spoilers of South Sudan’s peace.”
Brian Adeba, Deputy Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: “It is now evident that as long as the Security Council, the African Union, and IGAD don’t follow through on threats to hold the peace spoilers accountable, peace will remain elusive in South Sudan. For the next round of talks to succeed, there needs to be a clear connection to efforts geared at leveraging the parties to take compromises seriously.”
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About the ENOUGH PROJECT
The Enough Project supports peace and an end to mass atrocities in Africa’s deadliest conflict zones. Together with its investigative initiative The Sentry, Enough counters armed groups, violent kleptocratic regimes, and their commercial partners that are sustained and enriched by corruption, criminal activity, and the trafficking of natural resources. By helping to create consequences for the major perpetrators and facilitators of atrocities and corruption, Enough seeks to build leverage in support of peace and good governance. Enough conducts research in conflict zones, engages governments and the private sector on potential policy solutions, and mobilizes public campaigns focused on peace, human rights, and breaking the links between war and illicit profit. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org.