UN report calls for arms embargo on South Sudan

UN sanctions monitors says UN Security Council should carry out arms embargo over South Sudan because President Salva Kiir, rebel leader have targeted civilians, broken international law

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

South Sudanese rebels

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) should impose an arms embargo on South Sudan because civil war between President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar have targeted civilians and ignored international law, the UN sanctions monitors stated in their annual report.

Kiir and rebel leader are still in command of their forces and are accused of killing civilians in the ongoing two-year old civil war

The 15-member UN Security Council has long-threatened to carry out an arms embargo.

However, Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin announced on Monday he was concerned that the embargo would be ex parte because it would be easier to impose on the government.

The panel informed the UNSC to blacklist "high-level decision makers responsible for the actions and policies that threaten the peace, security and stability of the country."

The panel recommends for sanctions in the context of an international travel ban on the parties. But asset freeze was not mentioned in the report.

South Sudanese troops.

The panel also wrote that "there is clear and convincing evidence that most of the acts of violence committed during the war, including the targeting of civilians ... have been directed by or undertaken with the knowledge of senior individuals at the highest levels of the government and within the opposition."

However, they said the government seems to be responsible for committing most of the bloodshed in the country in 2015.

"While civilians have been and continue to be targeted by both sides, including because of their tribal affiliation, the panel has determined that, in contrast to 2014, the government has been responsible for the vast majority of human rights violations committed in South Sudan (since March 2015)," the UN's panel coordinator, Payton Knopf, informed the UN Security Council sanctions committee on January 14.

The monitors also said UN peacekeepers in South Sudan are regularly attacked, harassed, detained, intimidated and threatened.

The UN report said Kiir's government had purchased at least four Mi-24 attack helicopters in 2014 from a private Ukrainian company at a cost of almost $43 million.

"They have been vital in providing an important advantage in military operations, have facilitated the expansion of the war and have emboldened those in the government who are seeking a military solution to the conflict at the expense of the peace process," the report said.

Speaking to the council, Knopf said that rebels were trying to "acquire shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles to counter the threat of attack helicopters, specifically citing the need to continue and indeed escalate the fighting."

The warring parties signed a peace deal in August, but have constantly broken the ceasefire, as human rights violations have "continued unabated and with full impunity," the panel stated.

The panel added that nearly all attacks on areas by the warring parties included the rape and abduction of women and girls and that "all parties deliberately use rape as a tactic of war, often in gruesome incidents of gang rape."

The civil war in South Sudan began in December 2013 after Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of attempting a failed coup.

Although more than 12,000 UN peacekeepers have been deployed in the country, at least 10,000 people have been killed so far while more than 2.3 million others have been forced to flee their homes while nearly 3.9 million face severe food shortages.

TRTWorld and agencies