US in push for South Sudan sanctions

What you need to know:

  • Seven previous ceasefires have failed to take hold in the new nation.
  • There is the possibility of imposing an arms embargo on South Sudan.


The United States on Tuesday presented a UN draft resolution on imposing sanctions in South Sudan where warring factions have repeatedly failed to abide by agreements to end 14 months of war.

The measure was submitted to the Security Council a day after Ethiopia opened a new round of negotiations between the warring sides that were billed as a final opportunity to reach a settlement.

Under the resolution, the Security Council could impose targeted sanctions such as a global travel ban and an assets freeze on individuals who are deemed a threat to the stability of South Sudan.

The draft raises the possibility of imposing an arms embargo on South Sudan, a measure strongly backed by European countries despite concerns that the ban could penalize President Salva Kiir’s forces more than the rebel fighters of Riek Machar.

“The political leaders have repeatedly failed to put their narrow political and economic agendas aside in order to find political solutions that could bring a measure of stability,” a US official said.

“In light of that, our goal is to work with our partners to move forward with a sanctions resolution that will lay the groundwork for imposing costs on those who continue to fail to work toward a solution,” said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Seven previous ceasefires have failed to take hold in South Sudan, which exploded into violence in December 2013 after a falling-out between Kiir and his then vice president Machar.

UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous told the 15-member council that prospects for a breakthrough were dim.

“The likelihood that either side could soften its stance remains low,” Ladsous said.

Tens of thousands of people have died in the 14-month conflict, 1.5 million have been displaced and 2.5 million are in dire need of food aid in South Sudan, which declared independence from Sudan in 2011.

More than 113,000 civilians have fled to UN bases for protection as government troops and fighters are accused of waging terror campaigns of rape and killing.