UN Security Council extends South Sudan arms embargo

South Sudan was gripped by a bloody civil war between the followers of two rival leaders, Riek Machar (L) and Salva Kiir (R) (SIMON MAINA)
South Sudan was gripped by a bloody civil war between the followers of two rival leaders, Riek Machar (L) and Salva Kiir (R) (SIMON MAINA)

The UN Security Council overcame resistance from several countries on Thursday and extended an arms embargo and sanctions imposed in an effort to stem violence in South Sudan.

The US-drafted resolution passed with the minimum amount of support necessary, with nine countries in favor and six abstentions.

The text decried "the continued intensification of violence, including intercommunal violence, prolonging the political, security, economic and humanitarian crisis in most parts of the country."

The resolution extends an arms embargo on the country by a year to May 31, 2025.

It also extends an exemption, adopted a year ago, permitting the transfer of non-lethal military aid in support of a 2018 peace deal without necessitating prior notification.

It also affirms the Security Council's readiness to review the arms embargo measures, including their ultimate suspension or easing, "in the light of progress" on certain key issues.

The embargo "remains necessary to stem the unfettered flow of weapons into a region awash with guns. Too many people, and especially, women and children, have borne the brunt of this ongoing violence," said deputy US ambassador to the UN Robert Wood.

Juba rejects that position, along with several Security Council members including Russia, which has long demanded the lifting of the embargo.

"It is essential to acknowledge the significant achievements we have made," said South Sudan's ambassador to the UN Cecilia Adeng, who called for a "more balanced approach."

- 'Negative effects' -

"Lifting the arms embargo will enable us to build robust security institutions necessary for maintaining peace and protecting our citizens."

The embargo "is no more serving the purposes of which it was established" and "it is having negative effects since it hinders the ability of the transitional government to create the necessary capacity," said Amar Bendjama, the ambassador of Algeria which abstained on the vote along with the other African members including Sierra Leone and Mozambique, joining Russia, China and Guyana.

UN arms embargos are increasingly opposed by some member states, particularly African countries which are often backed by Russia.

"It is clear that at this stage, many of the Council sanctions regimes including South Sudan's are outdated and need to be reviewed," said Russia's deputy UN ambassador Anna Evstigneeva.

It was unfortunate that Washington views such embargos as a "panacea for all of the country's problems," she said.

From 2013 to 2018, the country's 12 million people were gripped by a bloody civil war between the followers of two rival leaders, Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, which claimed 380,000 lives.

Violence persists despite a peace deal signed in 2018 and nearly two million people are internally displaced, according to the UN.

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