The U.N. Security Council, its patience with the two sides in South Sudan’s deadly yearlong conflict running low, moved closer Tuesday to imposing targeted sanctions on the parties.
Australia’s U.N. ambassador, Gary Quinlan, who is president of the 15-nation council this month, told reporters that the council was very concerned about the political crisis that has killed thousands, left nearly 2 million people displaced and 100,000 sheltering in makeshift U.N. protection camps.
Quinlan laid the blame for the misery squarely at the feet of President Salva Kiir and his political rival and former vice president, Riek Machar.
“The fact is this is a man-made disaster and a violent power struggle between the two chief architects in South Sudan’s political elite," he said. "It can be stopped if they were to move back from the current pursuit of their own selfish, narrow political interests. And that’s the united view in the council.”
Quinlan said the council decided some time ago that it was prepared to move forward with targeted sanctions if necessary, possibly including an arms embargo, and that some members had discussed possible measures among themselves.
Peace talks between Kiir and Machar in Addis Ababa, under the auspices of regional group IGAD, have so far not delivered any deal. Quinlan said the council had taken its lead from IGAD and had given its mediators space to work toward a November 24 deadline for reaching an agreement. With no accord in sight, the council now will have to consider other options.
Earlier Tuesday, during a vote to renew for another six months the 12,500-member U.N. peacekeeping force in South Sudan, that country’s envoy, Francis Mading Deng, warned the council that a sustainable solution to the conflict could not be achieved through sanctions. He said they only “tend to harden positions toward confrontation rather than cooperation.”