New policy brief by Enough Project’s John Prendergast argues “Grand corruption and extreme violence are not aberrations; they are the system”
An Enough Project policy brief published today authored by John Prendergast, Founding Director of the Enough Project, presents the case for the U.S. and the broader international community to counter the violent kleptocracy — rampant, high-level corruption linked to mass atrocities and armed conflict – in South Sudan. The brief argues that if this kleptocratic structure is left unaddressed, the fledgling peace effort stands little chance of success.
The 9-page brief, “The Paper Tiger in South Sudan: Threats without Consequences for Atrocities and Kleptocracy” follows Prendergast’s testimony before a House Foreign Affairs hearing on South Sudan last month. The brief presents critical recommendations for U.S. leadership, including imposing and enforcing targeted sanctions on senior officials of consequence in order to pressure these leaders to place the well-being of their people ahead of personal enrichment and power politics.
Prendergast and experts from the Enough Project will be available for selected interviews and comment on the brief.
Selected excerpts from “The Paper Tiger”:
- “After 30 years of either living in, visiting, or working in South Sudan, and after extensive analysis undertaken by my colleagues at the Enough Project, our collective conclusion is that the primary root cause for the atrocities and instability that mark South Sudan’s short history is that the government there quickly morphed into a violent kleptocracy. Grand corruption and extreme violence are not aberrations; they are the system.”
- “In the short term, an elite pact like the current peace deal between the Juba government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) may be the quickest path out of the immediate violence. But sustainable peace in South Sudan will remain illusory without fundamental changes to end impunity and establish accountability.”
- “Unless this violent kleptocratic system is addressed head-on by policymakers internationally, the billions of dollars spent annually for peacekeeping, humanitarian aid, and the ongoing diplomacy and assistance supporting the peace deal there will simply be treating symptoms, not addressing the primary root cause of cyclical conflict.”
- “Fighting for control of the government allows for control of a vast wealth-generating machine. And using extreme violence to keep control, once you have it, is viewed as imperative. Unless this violent kleptocratic system is addressed head-on by policymakers internationally, the billions of dollars spent annually for peacekeeping, humanitarian aid, and the ongoing diplomacy and assistance supporting the peace deal there will simply be treating symptoms, not addressing the primary root cause of cyclical conflict.”
- “The surest way for the United States and the broader international community to create real consequences and build critically-needed leverage for peace is by hitting the leaders of rival kleptocratic factions in South Sudan where it hurts the most: their wallets. This requires a hard-target transnational search for dirty money and corrupt deals made by government officials, rebel leaders, arms traffickers, complicit bankers, and mining and oil company representatives.”
- “Addressing root causes will require much greater international leverage, which until now has been a cripplingly and puzzlingly insufficient part of international efforts to support peace and human rights in South Sudan.”
- “Sanctions, anti-money laundering measures, prosecutions, asset seizure and forfeiture, and other economic tools of 21st-century foreign policy are key instruments in securing foreign policy goals. How strange and disappointing it is that these tools are not effectively utilized for promoting peace and human rights in countries like South Sudan. Going forward, these tools of financial coercion should be essential components of U.S. and global efforts to secure peace, prevent mass atrocities, and promote accountability in South Sudan and other African conflicts.”
- “It is not only South Sudan’s kleptocrats who are making a fortune from the country’s brutal civil war. A host of mercenaries and war profiteers have turned up in South Sudan, eager to profit from the country’s misery.”
- “[T]he U.S. and international donors should further support the South Sudanese government institutions that are designed to hold those in power accountable, including the Anti-Corruption Commission (SSACC), the Fiscal, Financial Allocation and Monitoring Commission, and the National Audit Chamber (NAC). The United States and broader international community should also increase diplomatic and financial support to the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), a body that was set up in late 2015 to monitor the implementation of the peace agreement.”
- “[S]ome members of the Security Council have signaled that they will block any further sanctions proposed against South Sudan’s leaders. Given the low likelihood of a deeply divided U.N. Security Council acting on this issue, the United States should build a coalition of countries prepared to impose targeted sanctions on key high-ranking officials on both sides of the conflict who are undermining peace and then robustly enforce those sanctions.”
- “The administration should consider enacting secondary sanctions that would target foreign financial institutions engaged in facilitation of public corruption in South Sudan. Additionally, sectoral sanctions could be deployed to limit certain types of financing available for future (rather than current) petroleum projects.”
- “To be frank, sanctions in many countries are ineffective and at times counter-productive. The main problems with sanctions in South Sudan and elsewhere are that they often do not target top decision-makers and are not sufficiently enforced. To counter these challenges, targeted sanctions in South Sudan should be imposed on much higher-level officials and should be the subject of strict enforcement efforts to demonstrate seriousness on the part of the United States and broader international community.”
- “[W]e see some evidence that officials from countries neighboring South Sudan may have played a role in facilitating or helping to conceal the offshoring of their assets. The U.S. government must send a direct message to these countries and their financial institutions, starting with Kenya, that compliance with sanctions is not optional and facilitation of the wholesale looting of South Sudanese state assets will not be tolerated, or else there will be further consequences directed at their banking sectors. Finally, in conjunction with any future designations, the U.S. government should be proactive in ensuring that these countries and their financial institutions cooperate in providing information and take appropriate enforcement action.”
- “The United States has tools at its disposal to foster significant change and help to end the suffering on the ground in South Sudan. The Obama administration should deploy the tools of financial pressure accordingly, and the U.S. Congress should work to ensure that the agencies responsible for administering sanctions and leveraging such tools have sufficient resources and staff to fulfill this mission.”
- “[P]assage of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act by the U.S. Congress would help ensure that these agencies have a robust mandate to use their power to counter kleptocracy and disrupt the networks of those who commit mass atrocities while also protecting the journalists and human rights defenders who put their lives on the line while attempting to expose abuses.”
Read the full policy brief “The Paper Tiger in South Sudan: Threats without Consequences for Atrocities and Kleptocracy”: eno.ug/1TItZos
Congressional testimony by John Prendergast, at House Foreign Affairs hearing on “South Sudan’s Prospects for Peace and Security,” given on April 27, 2016 – complete text and video: eno.ug/1T22tSu
About THE ENOUGH PROJECT
The Enough Project, an atrocity prevention policy group, seeks to build leverage for peace and justice in Africa by helping to create real consequences for the perpetrators and facilitators of genocide and other mass atrocities. Enough aims to counter rights-abusing armed groups and violent kleptocratic regimes that are fueled by grand corruption, transnational crime and terror, and the pillaging and trafficking of minerals, ivory, diamonds, and other natural resources. Enough conducts field research in conflict zones, develops and advocates for policy recommendations, supports social movements in affected countries, and mobilizes public campaigns. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org