Council to Adopt Technical Rollover Sanctions Resolution and Presidential Statement on South Sudan
Today (7 April) the Council is scheduled to adopt a technical rollover resolution renewing the mandate of the South Sudan sanctions regime for an additional seven weeks until 1 June. A presidential statement is expected to be adopted in conjunction with the resolution, indicating the Council’s intention to assess progress by 30 April on steps taken by the parties as outlined by the Council in its 17 March presidential statement, which relate to the implementation of the August 2015 peace agreement and a proposal for a national boundary commission to review the number of states in South Sudan and their boundaries, among other issues.
The US, the penholder on South Sudan, circulated the original draft of the resolution on Monday evening (4 April), together with the draft presidential statement. The adoption of the sanctions resolution had originally been scheduled for 13 April, but as a short technical roll-over draft of three operative paragraphs, it does not appear that negotiations were required. The draft was put into blue yesterday (6 April). This will represent the second consecutive technical rollover resolution adopted regarding the South Sudan sanctions regime; resolution 2271 of 2 March extended the measures under the sanctions regime until 15 April.
On the draft presidential statement, some amendments were offered by Russia and Venezuela. Bilateral exchanges ensued to resolve the differences of view on language. As of yesterday evening, it remained unclear to other members whether the simultaneous adoptions would take place today, because of differences of view on the presidential statement. Yesterday evening, China, Council president for the month, tentatively scheduled the adoptions, but indicated that they had not been confirmed. However, this morning, the US placed the revised presidential statement under silence until 10:30 am. It successfully passed silence and will most likely be adopted along with the resolution today.
As compared to the first draft, the final version slightly changes the tone of the text to be more welcoming of some progress made by the parties on the steps outlined in the March presidential statement, while maintaining language strongly urging them to complete these steps.
The US apparently expressed the view that they wanted the two texts be adopted simultaneously. Some members have also felt that while the resolution extends the sanctions regime, it is important that it is adopted concurrently with a political message to the parties, represented by the presidential statement, that the Council is monitoring their actions.
A significant issue of discussion among members in recent months has been whether the Council should pursue an arms embargo. This was a recommendation made by both the South Sudan Sanctions Committee’s Panel of Experts in its January final report and by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in its March report into allegations of violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law in South Sudan. Several Council members continue to support an arms embargo. However, others, including some veto-wielding permanent members and some elected members, are not supportive of this course of action, particularly at what they believe is a critical juncture in the implementation of the August 2015 peace agreement.
During the 31 March consultations on South Sudan, a number of members were encouraged by the recent arrival in Juba of the first wave of 1,370 Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM in Opposition) troops, as the full arrival of these troops is expected to pave the way for the return of opposition leader Riek Machar, and thus lead to the formation of the long-delayed transitional government of national unity. Other members were less optimistic about this development, given the slow implementation of the peace agreement and the continued violations of the ceasefire. However, it appears that the perception that some progress has been made muted calls by some members for additional sanctions, whether targeted measures (i.e. assets freezes or travel bans) or an arms embargo.