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Security Council Decides against Imposing Arms Embargo on South Sudan, Designating Key Figures for Targeted Sanctions (23.12.2016)

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Adoption Fails by 7 Votes in Favour, 8 Abstentions amid Doubt over Wisdom of Punitive Steps as Government Reports Progress on Ground

The Security Council voted this morning against imposing an arms embargo on South Sudan and targeted sanctions on three key Government and opposition figures whose dispute has spiralled into widespread violence in the young nation.

Defeated by a vote of 7 in favour to none against, with 8 abstentions, the draft would have instituted a ban on arms sales to South Sudan as well as designating three officials as subject to an asset freeze and travel ban: Paul Malong, Chief of Staff of the Government’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA); Michael Makuei Lueth, Minister for Information; and former First Vice-President Riek Machar, leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLAM/A-IO).

Voting in favour of the draft resolution were representatives of France, New Zealand, Spain, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States and Uruguay. Speaking after the vote, they recalled that United Nations officials had sounded multiple warnings about an impending deterioration of the carnage in South Sudan, and about long-term non-cooperation with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on the part of parties to conflict. They said that although the measures proposed in the text would not have been a panacea, they would have reduced the violence, addressed impunity, kept the country from spending precious resources on arms, and created momentum for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

Delegations that abstained were China, Russian Federation, Angola, Egypt, Japan, Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela. China’s representative said his country was committed to restoring peace and stability in South Sudan as soon as possible. Describing the Government’s announcement of an inclusive national dialogue and the approved deployment of the Regional Protection Force as positive steps, he emphasized that the international community should support them instead of taking counter-productive actions. It should also support full implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (the Peace Agreement) and the mediation efforts of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), he added.

The Russian Federation’s representative and others who abstained criticized the readiness of those who had voted in the draft’s favour to impose sanctions, maintaining that such measures had failed to have a positive effect in other situations of a similar nature.

South Sudan’s representative, described the tabling of today’s draft as unfortunate, given that President Salva Kiir had ordered the formation of the National Dialogue Steering Committee just a few days ago. Such a commitment pointed to a more encouraging direction. Those targeted for sanctions were critical to implementation of all agreements, he said, emphasizing that the draft had revealed a lack of good faith. It could have invited controversy, disagreement and hostility, rather than the necessary cooperation, he said, warning that punitive measures could only harden positions.

The meeting began at 9:33 a.m. and ended at 10:39 a.m.

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