What's In Blue

Posted Tue 23 May 2017

Renewal of the South Sudan Sanctions Regime and Briefing on UNMISS

Tomorrow (24 May), the Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution renewing the South Sudan sanctions regime (comprising assets freezes and travel bans on designated individuals) for an additional year and the Panel of Experts for 13 months. The draft resolution is a technical rollover of the mandate of the regime and the Panel of Experts, with no proposed alterations. It was first circulated on 19 May (Friday) and, not receiving any objections, was put under silence on 22 May (Monday) until this morning, and is now in blue.

Some Council members continue to favour expansion of the sanctions regime, potentially to include an arms embargo and/or additional targeted sanctions, as a response to the ongoing violence in South Sudan and the resulting humanitarian impact. Such proposals have yet to gain sufficient support from Council members, and the US, as penholder on South Sudan, has opted to separate the question of additional sanctions from the renewal of the current regime. Informal discussions amongst Council members on options for additional sanctions are likely to continue. In December 2016, a draft resolution that would have authorised an arms embargo and additional targeted sanctions failed to be adopted, garnering only seven affirmative votes.

Following the renewal of the sanctions regime, Council members will receive a briefing on South Sudan by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for South Sudan and head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), David Shearer, via video link. Shearer will provide an overview of the Secretary-General’s 30-day assessment of the deployment and future requirements of the Regional Protection Force (RPF), obstacles to setting up the force, and impediments to UNMISS in carrying out its mandate. Shearer may also discuss the lack of political progress in resolving the conflict, the likelihood that the unilateral ceasefire declared by South Sudanese President Salva Kiir on 22 May will be adhered to, and the prospects for the government-initiated National Dialogue.

The 30-day assessment reportedly notes that although UNMISS continues to face impediments, including limitations on freedom of movement, it has made progress by pursuing a more robust approach in the face of obstacles, including checkpoints. Members may seek additional details on UNMISS’ response to restrictions on its freedom of movement, including the degree to which such restrictions are part of a wider strategy to limit the operation of UNMISS.

Shearer will also report on the progression of the deployment of the RPF. The RPF was mandated in August 2016 and is expected to consist of 4,000 troops who will be responsible for protecting UN staff, humanitarian actors, and civilians in Juba. Deployment of the force has been hindered by a number of factors, including obstruction and delays by the government of South Sudan. However, initial elements of the force have now arrived in Juba, and Shearer is expected to report that progress is being made in finalising a second site for the force to deploy to. Members may be interested in hearing from Shearer on efforts to advance negotiations on the role of the RPF in protecting Juba International Airport, a key outstanding issue on which the government is reportedly continuing to prevaricate.

The situation in South Sudan has changed significantly in the eight months since the RPF was authorised. Fighting has shifted from Juba to a number of locations across the country, reducing the immediate need for a force to stabilise Juba itself, though further violence in Juba remains a possibility. Members may seek to discuss with Shearer whether the deployment of the RPF could, when completed, allow the redeployment of UNMISS resources from Juba to those areas most affected by recent violence.