Last Updated: Friday, 24 November 2017, 06:46 GMT

South Sudan: No Sanctions without a Strategy

Publisher International Crisis Group (ICG)
Publication Date 29 June 2015
Cite as International Crisis Group (ICG), South Sudan: No Sanctions without a Strategy, 29 June 2015, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/559267d74.html [accessed 24 November 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

As South Sudan's civil war continues unabated and multiple peace processes and initiatives create little tangible progress, members of the UN Security Council are seeking to adopt sanctions against six generals, three each from the government and the opposition sides. This would in effect punish past wrongdoing and risk compromising ongoing peace efforts. It would also undermine the renewed impetus for a coordinated international approach to peacemaking in South Sudan. That process remains under the auspices of the regional body, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which has recently been augmented by a wider grouping, known as "IGAD-PLUS". Imposing sanctions on these generals at this time would also turn individuals and communities in South Sudan who currently favour a peace agreement against the international community. The Security Council should hold off on this sanctions package and reframe its South Sudan sanctions strategy.

None of the six named generals are responsible for the failure to reach a viable agreement. They are not key political decision makers and do not play major roles in shaping positions at the Addis Ababa negotiations. Most favour a negotiated settlement and their support will be crucial for successful implementation of any peace agreement that is achieved.

The failure of the IGAD-sponsored talks to date has created frustration, but IGAD-PLUS, launched in South Africa earlier this month, seeks to coordinate a more effective and broadly-supported international strategy by bringing in additional important players, including the African Union (AU), the U.S., UK, European Union, Norway and China, among others. IGAD-PLUS can only succeed with coordinated and effective support from its members and the Council. While IGAD, the AU and UN agree that the road to peace undoubtedly requires a combination of pressure and incentives, these proposed sanctions would likely weaken, not reinforce a more strategic approach. A unity of approach is required, not uncoordinated, independent actions that may produce long-term negative consequences for peace prospects.

Sanctions as a means of pressure should:

be imposed only when clearly supporting a revitalised peace process;

make clear to those targeted what they would need to do to avoid the sanction or have it removed; and

provide clear timeframes and benchmarks for such action to be taken.

The sanctions that are being considered meet none of these tests. In seeking to demonstrate the credibility of the Council's threats, the Council risks achieving the reverse with ill-timed and ill-conceived sanctions. They will not build greater support for an improved peace process, which is the present imperative, and should not be pursued.

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