Expected Council Action
In July, the Council expects to adopt a resolution renewing the South Sudan sanctions regime, which expires on 15 July. The Council is also set to renew the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the South Sudan Sanctions Committee by no later than 15 July, to avoid its expiration on 14 August, as set out in resolution 2418. Prior to this, the Council will hold consultations on South Sudan sanctions.
The mandate of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) expires on 15 March 2019.
Key Recent Developments
The situation in South Sudan remains a cause for grave concern. The country is on the brink of famine, and the humanitarian crisis continues to intensify amidst widespread insecurity and violence despite the signing of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) on 21 December 2017. According to the Secretary-General’s most recent report, conflict has intensified in parts of Unity and Central Equatoria, with government forces seeking to dislodge opposition forces ahead of the rainy season. The report calls for expedited publication of reported violations documented by the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM), the body mandated to monitor violations of the CoHA, which has not released a public report since January. On 26 June, a Bangladeshi UNMISS peacekeeper was killed during an armed attack on a UN convoy that was supporting the delivery of humanitarian aid to vulnerable civilians in the Central Equatoria region. The Council issued a press statement condemning the attack and calling for a swift investigation to hold those responsible accountable.
The third round of the South Sudan High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF), convened by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, took place from 17 to 23 May. It involved the continuation of discussions about governance and security arrangements that began in February but ended with the parties not able to agree on a power-sharing proposal put forward by IGAD. Since then, intensive interlinked consultations have been held in Addis Ababa in an effort to bring the parties closer together. IGAD also put forward a “Bridging Proposal”, seeking to outline a middle ground on the various negotiating positions related to key governance and security issues.
On 31 May, the IGAD Council of Ministers held an extraordinary session on South Sudan, at which it adopted a communiqué calling for a meeting between South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar before the 31st Summit of the AU Assembly on 1 and 2 July. The communiqué also directs the IGAD facilitation team to develop a revitalised text of the August 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan, to be endorsed by the Council of Ministers and submitted to the AU Assembly Summit for final approval. The communiqué further states that the Council of Ministers has decided to submit proposed punitive measures against violators of the CoHA for the approval of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government, and to request the IGAD Assembly to delegate to the Council of Ministers decisions on actions to be taken against violators of the CoHA.
Also on 31 May, the Council adopted resolution 2418 renewing the sanctions regime and mandate of the Panel of Experts until 15 July. The resolution requested the Secretary-General to report by 30 June on whether any fighting had taken place since the adoption of the resolution and whether the parties had come to “a viable political agreement”. It decided that the Council “shall consider applying” targeted sanctions to the six individuals identified in an annex to the resolution or an arms embargo, or both, within five days of the Secretary-General’s report. The resolution was adopted with nine votes in favour and six abstentions (Bolivia, China, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan and Russia). (For more details, see our What’s In Blue story of 30 May.)
On 20 June, Machar met with Kiir in Addis Ababa, for the first time in almost two years, for a broad discussion of the prospects for peace in South Sudan and outstanding issues in the HLRF process. Discussions continued the following week in Khartoum, resulting in the signing on 27 June of the “Khartoum Declaration of Agreement”, which among other things declared a permanent ceasefire within 72 hours.
The Council received a briefing on 28 June on the Secretary-General’s most recent 90-day report. (For more details, see our What’s In Blue story of 27 June.)
Ambassador Joanna Wronecka (Poland), chair of the South Sudan Sanctions Committee, conducted a visit to South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya from 16 to 26 June.
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 14 June, the Human Rights Council (HRC) announced the appointment of Barney Afako of Uganda to the three-person Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan established by the Human Rights Council in March 2016. He replaces Godfrey Musila and joins Yasmin Sooka of South Africa and Andrew Clapham of the UK to continue the commission’s mandate “to determine and report the facts and circumstances of, collect and preserve evidence of, and clarify responsibility for alleged gross violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes”. The Commission will present an oral update to the HRC at its 39th session in September and a comprehensive written report at its 40th session in March 2019.
Key Issues and Options
An immediate issue for the Council is renewing the South Sudan sanctions regime and the mandate of the South Sudan Sanctions Committee’s Panel of Experts, both of which expire on 15 July.
Another key issue is whether to impose targeted sanctions against the six individuals identified in the annex to resolution 2418, establish an arms embargo, or do both. A likely option is for Council members to consider the report of the Secretary-General requested in resolution 2418; steps taken by the parties following the “Khartoum Declaration of Agreement”, including whether the permanent ceasefire is implemented; Ambassador Wronecka’s overview of her visit; the actions and level of commitment of the parties to the peace process; the extent of violations of the CoHA; and next steps in the HLRF process announced by IGAD.
The timing of imposing targeted sanctions was a particular area of disagreement during negotiations of resolution 2418. Several members who might otherwise be inclined to support additional targeted sanctions expressed reservations during negotiations about pursuing such measures unless the region is on board. These members—including Bolivia, China, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan and Russia, all of which abstained on the 31 May resolution—are of the view that the position of countries in the region, most notably Ethiopia as a member of IGAD and convener of the HLRF, and regional bodies, such as IGAD and the AU, is critical. While IGAD and the AU have expressed their willingness to consider punitive measures against those who obstruct the peace process and violate the CoHA, action imposing such consequences has to date not taken place in the region.
In its explanation of vote on 31 May, Ethiopia said resolution 2418, and the inclusion of the annex identifying six individuals for possible targeted sanctions, “is manifestly harmful to the peace process [and]…undermines the efforts of the sub-region, the region, IGAD and the AU”. Ethiopia added that “a Council divided on this issue will not be helpful to the peace process, and it will not send the right message to the parties”. This position is contrary to that of the US in particular, which sought to impose targeted sanctions against the six individuals in an earlier draft resolution it circulated in May. In its explanation of vote, the US said it “has lost its patience [and]…the status quo is unacceptable”.
The US is the penholder on South Sudan. Poland chairs the 2206 South Sudan Sanctions Committee.
UN Documents on South Sudan
|Security Council Resolution|
|31 May 2018 S/RES/2418||This resolution renewed the sanctions regime and mandate of the Panel of Experts until 15 July 2018.|
|14 June 2018 S/2018/609||This was the Secretary-General’s 90-day report on South Sudan.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|31 May 2018 S/PV.8273||This was the meeting at which the Council adopted resolution 2418.|