The U.N. Security Council has taken the first step toward sanctioning spoilers to the peace process in South Sudan. In a unanimous vote, the 15-nation council decided Tuesday to establish the legal framework required for sanctioning individuals and entities.
After months of threatening to go the sanctions route, the Security Council adopted a resolution that envisions a travel ban, asset freeze and possibly an arms embargo against individuals and entities that are preventing an end to the 15-months of violence that has killed thousands in South Sudan and displaced two million people.
The resolution also sets up a panel of experts who will gather information on the flow of weapons to those undermining the peace process and violating human rights.
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power, whose delegation drafted the resolution, said the measure is intended to support regional group IGAD’s mediation efforts between the parties of President Salva Kiir and his political rival Riek Machar.
“Today, in South Sudan, quite literally, a young generation’s future is being held ransom by political actors who despite all costs refuse to compromise. This cannot continue, and those who frustrate peace must begin to pay the price,” said Power.
While the resolution does not go so far as to designate names for sanctions, political leaders have been put on notice.
The two parties have agreed to an IGAD deadline of March 5 for finalizing a peace deal.
China’s Ambassador Liu Jieyi said by adopting the resolution now, the council is sending a united message to urge a breakthrough in the negotiations.
“China sincerely hopes that the two negotiating parties will, as soon as possible, reach a compromise on the pending issues in order to take the crucial step in restoring peace and stability to South Sudan as it is in the fundamental and long-term interest of the country and people of South Sudan,” said Liu.
China has extensive investments in South Sudan, especially in its oil sector, which has been targeted in recent fighting.
While China was supportive of the resolution, Russia’s representative said their vote in favor was not a sign of unconditional support, and he repeated Moscow’s position that sanctions are not an effective means for settling conflicts.
South Sudan’s envoy, Francis Deng, echoed this position. He said a sustainable solution to the crisis would not be found through sanctions and warned against targeting South Sudan’s leadership, saying it would be counter-productive in the pursuit of peace.