South Sudan: Neighbours Should Press UN for Arms Embargo Regional Group Should Call for Halt to Weapons Flow
(Juba, November 5, 2014) – South Sudan’s neighbors should urgently call for the United Nations Security Council to establish an arms embargo to stem gruesome violations in the country’s devastating conflict, more than 50 South Sudanese and international human rights and humanitarian organizations said in a petition to regional leaders. The ongoing attacks on civilians are contributing to a humanitarian crisis, the organizations said.
Regional leaders including the presidents of Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia are to meet on November 6, 2014 in Addis Ababa to discuss South Sudan at a summit meeting of the regional body, the Intergovernmental Authority of Development (IGAD).
“South Sudanese civilians are desperate and need regional leadership to help protect them,” said Geoffrey Duke, secretariat team leader at the South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms. “More weapons will mean these civilians will face more abusive attacks: killings, rape, burnings, pillage. Now is the time to take action.”
Regional leaders should emerge from the November 6 summit with a clear request to the UN Security Council to impose a comprehensive arms embargo on South Sudan, the organizations said.
Rights groups also called on IGAD to make public reports by its ceasefire monitors in South Sudan, including allegations of war crimes committed by forces there.
IGAD initiated peace talks in December 2013 in Ethiopia, soon after South Sudan’s conflict began. A cessation of hostilities agreement negotiated by the regional mediators in January has been broken on multiple occasions by both South Sudan’s government forces and the opposition.
Since the conflict started in December, tens of thousands of people, many of them civilians, have been killed and 1.8 million people have been forced to flee their homes. Parties to the conflict have used small arms and light weapons, and a range of other conventional arms and military equipment. Investigations by independent organizations conclude that both the warring parties have committed war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.
The region’s leaders and the regional mediators have threatened tough action on the parties to the conflict in the face of continuing clashes and attacks on civilians’ homes, churches, hospitals, and UN bases.
“Despite the threats, no action has been taken, just endless second, third, fourth chances to the benefit of the belligerents and the detriment of civilians,” said James Ninrew, executive director at Assistance Mission for Africa. “The dry season is upon us and across the conflict area communities are afraid that yet again they will be attacked.”
IGAD set up a monitoring body in South Sudan to investigate violations of the ceasefire, including the agreement by both sides not to attack civilians or their property, both of which can constitute war crimes under international law. But aside from publishing some limited information in August, mediators have kept monitoring reports private, despite repeated calls by rights groups and others to make the reports public, especially reports of serious crimes.
“Monitors have an important task to help reduce violations against civilians by showing abusive forces that they are being watched,” said Angelina Seeka, regional director at the End Impunity Organization. “But monitoring attacks is all in vain if these reports are kept under wraps.”
The petition is available here:
The groups supporting the petition are:
1. Action Support Center (South Africa)
2. African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (Uganda)
3. Alternativa Antimilitarista MOC (Spain)
4. Amnesty International (United Kingdom)
5. Assistance Missions for Africa (South Sudan)
6. Association of Media Women in South Sudan (South Sudan)
7. Bund für Soziale Verteidigung (Federation for Social Defence) (Germany)
8. Change Agency Association (South Sudan)
9. Charity Aid Foundation (United Kingdom)
10. Chemchemi Ya Ukweli (Kenya)
11. Citizens for Peace and Justice (South Sudan)
12. Clip-Poverty (South Sudan)
13. Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (South Sudan)
14. Community Initiative for Rural Development (South Sudan)
15. Cordaid (The Netherlands)
16. East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (Uganda)
17. Embrace Dignity (South Africa)
18. End Impunity Organization (South Sudan)
19. Enough Project (United States)
20. Equatoria Rehabilitation and Development Association (South Sudan)
21. Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (Uganda)
22. Global Witness (United Kingdom)
23. Human Rights Development Organization (South Sudan)
24. Human Rights Watch (United States)
25. Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (United Kingdom)
26. Institut für Friedensarbeit und Gewaltfreie Konfliktaustragung (Institute for Peace Work and Nonviolent Conflict Transformation) (Germany)
27. International Centre for Policy and Conflict (Kenya)
28. Juba Civic Engagement Centre (South Sudan)
29. Justice Africa (United Kingdom)
30. Ligue des Droits de la personne dans la région des Grands Lacs (Rwanda and Burundi)
31. Losolia Rehabilitation and Development Association (South Sudan)
32. Organization for Nonviolence and Development (South Sudan)
34. PAX (The Netherlands)
35. Rally for Peace and Democracy (South Sudan)
36. Save the Children (United Kingdom)
37. Seed for Democracy for South Sudan (South Sudan)
38. South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms (South Sudan)
39. South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy (South Sudan)
40. South Sudan Law Society (South Sudan)
41. South Sudanese Network on Democracy and Elections (South Sudan)
42. Soweto Community Based Organization (South Sudan)
43. Standard Action Liaison Focus (South Sudan)
44. Support Peace Initiative Development Organization-South Sudan (South Sudan)
45. The ROOTS Project (South Sudan)
46. Union pacifiste de France (France)
47. Voice for Change (South Sudan)
48. Voice for Nyala (United Kingdom)
49. Waging Peace (United Kingdom)
50. War Resisters League (United States)
51. Women Development Group (South Sudan)
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