South Africa, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea Stress Need to Give Regional Mediation Efforts More Time, Citing Political Process
The Security Council decided today to renew until 31 May 2020 the arms embargo it imposed on South Sudan last year, as well as the sanctions put into place in 2015 on those blocking peace in the country.
Adopting resolution 2471 (2019) under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter — by a vote of 10 in favour to none against, with 5 abstentions (China, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Russian Federation, South Africa) — it also extended until 30 June 2020 the mandate of the Panel of Experts overseeing the sanctions regime, with instructions to provide monthly updates, an interim report by 1 December 2019 and a final report by 1 May 2020.
[Through resolution 2428 (2018), the Council decided on 13 July 2018 that all Member States will prevent the supply, sale or transfer to South Sudan — from or through their territories — of arms and related material, and withhold training, technical and financial assistance related to military activities or materials. (See Press Release SC/13421.)]
The representative of the United States, the main sponsor of the resolution, expressed disappointment that African members of the Council did not support it, three months after the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2457 (2019) supporting the African Union’s “Silencing the Guns in Africa by the Year 2020” initiative. Acknowledging some initial progress towards peace since sanctions were strengthened 10 months ago, he said the United States is ready to consider adjustments and he encouraged regional actors to assume a greater leadership role.
Taking an opposing view, South Africa’s delegate said that, given the ongoing political process in South Sudan, sanctions are not helpful at this time. He encouraged the Council to support efforts being made by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union, citing reduced violence, as well as efforts among the parties to build confidence. He warned against external pressures that can aggravate volatile political processes.
Concurring, Côte d’Ivoire’s delegate said the Council’s role cannot be to simply continue imposing sanctions; it must also appreciate the progress being made and proceed from that dynamic. More than ever, South Sudan needs united and constructive action, as well as encouragement along the path to peace. It is crucial for all players to help strengthen and preserve the positive dynamic on the ground. Equatorial Guinea’s delegate added that arms embargoes often work to the detriment of Governments, eventually creating situations where armed groups become better equipped.
Poland’s representative, recalling her role as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1591 (2005) concerning South Sudan, said the 2018 revitalized peace agreement has yet to produce results. The arms embargo should therefore continue, she said, noting that the drop in violence has been a direct result of the sanctions.
Also speaking today were representatives of the Russian Federation, China, Belgium, Germany, Dominican Republic, France, Kuwait, United Kingdom and Indonesia.
The meeting began at 10:14 a.m. and ended at 10:52 a.m.
JONATHAN R. COHEN (United States), the main sponsor of the resolution, expressed disappointment that the African members of the Council did not support it, three months after the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2457 (2019) supporting the African Union’s “Silencing the Guns in Africa by the Year 2020” initiative. Acknowledging some initial progress towards peace in South Sudan since the sanctions regime was strengthened 10 months ago, he said the United States is ready to consider adjustments and he encouraged regional actors to assume a greater leadership role.
JERRY MATTHEWS MATJILA (South Africa) said that, given the political process in South Sudan, sanctions are not helpful at this time. He appealed to the Council to heed and support efforts being undertaken by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union in South Sudan. While progress towards peace is slow, there has been a reduction in violence, as well as efforts among the parties to build confidence. Warning against external pressures that can aggravate volatile political processes, he emphasized that making peace is neither easy nor linear. He called on all parties to improve the humanitarian situation in South Sudan, which remains precarious.
KACOU HOUADJA LÉON ADOM (Côte d’Ivoire) said the Council’s role cannot be to simply continue imposing sanctions; it must also appreciate the progress being made and proceed from that dynamic. More than ever, South Sudan needs united and constructive action, as well as encouragement along the path to peace, which is not always an easy one. It is crucial for the Council, African Union, IGAD and all players in South Sudan to help strengthen and preserve the positive dynamic on the ground.
DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) said his delegation did not support the extension of the mandate, as it appeared to have been done in an automatic manner rather than based on the situation on the ground. Indeed, conditions have improved, and a large part of the Khartoum Agreement has been implemented, with structures and mechanisms established, the number of human rights violations dropping and a growing number of refugees returning to their homes. This progress was not helped by the introduction of an arms embargo. In fact, sanctions did not play a role, but mediators did.
JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland) regretted to note that the Council was unable to reach a consensus. Recalling her role as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1591 (2005) concerning South Sudan, she said the peace agreement has yet produce tangible results, and the arms embargo should therefore continue. Indeed, the drop in violence has been a direct result of the sanctions.
YAO SHAOJUN (China) said the political process has made significant progress since 2018, demonstrating the parties’ resolve and goodwill. The Council should send positive messages to support African Union and IGAD efforts. In July 2018, the Council adopted measures to impose an arms embargo. China abstained from voting on that resolution and the one adopted today.
MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium) said prematurely lifting the arms embargo could have negative effects, particularly on the safety of civilians. Going forward, he said more work remains to be done during the extended pretransition phase.
CHRISTOPH HEUSGEN (Germany) said that ending impunity must send a signal that ongoing gross human rights violations are unacceptable. In addition, the latest extension of the pretransitional period demonstrates that the parties have failed to make progress in the security sector, and pressure must be maintained. Further inflow of weapons into the non-cantoned armed forces of all sides must be prevented. Indeed, South Sudan does not need more weapons; rather, resources must be used for an inclusive and credible peace process, he said, calling on all States to strictly implement the arms embargo.
JOSÉ SINGER WEISINGER (Dominican Republic) said that, while a climate of relative calm prevails in South Sudan, implementation of the revitalized peace agreement faces challenges. It is time to achieve a definitive political solution, he said, voicing hope that the political process will get back on track. With the humanitarian situation still serious, and sexual and gender-based violence a constant threat, both parties must focus on preserving the ceasefire and advancing the political process. Greater efforts must also be made to improve the lives of civilians, many of whom remain internally displaced, he said, describing their plight as “critical and unacceptable”.
ANNE GUEGUEN (France) remained extremely concerned by the ongoing human rights violations, particularly sexual violence, pressing the Council to systematically apply the sanctions to bring the perpetrators to justice.
TAREQ M. A. M. ALBANAI (Kuwait) called for accelerated implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan, with signatory parties working together towards a Government of national unity. Non‑signatories must sign the agreement as soon as possible. He emphasized that today’s resolution is binding on all Member States, expressing hope there will be a time when sanctions — a tool for achieving lasting peace — will no longer be necessary.
STEPHEN HICKEY (United Kingdom) said that, as a member of the Troika on South Sudan (Norway, United Kingdom, United States), his country supports the quest for peace and the progress being made by IGAD to ensure that the revitalized peace agreement reduces violence. Today, the Council demonstrated to the people of South Sudan that it is committed to ending their suffering. Expressing disappointment that some Council members were unable to support the renewal of sanctions, he said that, in the absence of judicial institutions, such measures offer a form of accountability and send a message that the international community will not tolerate heinous acts of violence.
ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea) said that, given the past year’s active dynamic towards peace through dialogue, extending the arms embargo and sanctions regime are not the right ingredients for motivating those involved in peace efforts. While his delegation supports sanctions to some extent, the stakeholders must be given time to pursue their efforts. He emphasized that arms embargos often work to the detriment of Governments, eventually creating situations where armed groups become better equipped.
DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia), Council President for May, spoke in his national capacity to stress that, while parties are making progress in implementing the revitalized peace agreement, there is still a great deal of work to be done. All sides must ensure that all pending tasks are completed in a timely manner. Emphasizing that “there is no Plan B” for South Sudan, and that the Revitalized Agreement is the best and only option, he said sanctions should only be used to support a wider political strategy, with a transparent and measurable timetable, subject to evaluation against developments on the ground. While today’s resolution could have been stronger in offering encouragement to the parties, the technical extension of sanctions will create space for building confidence and moving forward, he said.