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TOOTHLESS-AU calls for lifting of arms embargo on SouthSudan

The African Union

By William Madouk Garang

The African Union (AU) has called on the international community to lift the arms embargo and other sanctions imposed on South Sudan by the UN Security Council to enable the country to expedite the graduation of unified forces.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC)on 13 July 2018 imposed an arms embargo on South Sudan’s territory, legally obliging all UN member states to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of arms and related material – including ammunition, military vehicles, and spare parts.

The embargo also extends to technical support, training, financial or other assistance related to military activities.

The Revitalized Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) implementing the 2018 peace agreement, has on many occasions blamed the delay in implementing security arrangements provided for in the peace pact, particularly the graduation of unified forces on the arms embargo, saying the government was unable to purchase weapons to arm and graduate the thousands of troops who have been in training centers since 2019.

In a communique seen by Juba Monitor, the AU Peace and Security in its meeting number 1060 held on Tuesday last week, the continental body called on the international community to lift the more than five-year restriction to allow South Sudan to build the required capacity of the unified armed forces and enable the forces to discharge the constitutional mandate of defending the territorial integrity of the country.


“Calls on the international community to lift the arms embargo and other sanctions imposed on South Sudan to enable the country to build the required capacity of the unified armed forces,

“And for them to more effectively discharge their constitutional mandate of defending the territorial integrity of their country,” reads part of a communiqué issued by AU on 25th January 2022 and obtained by Juba Monitor.

In May 2021, the United Nations Security Council voted to extend the sanction regime on South Sudan for another year despite resistance from two countries namely India and Kenya that abstained from the vote.

The measure renewed the arms embargo along with assets freeze and global travel ban imposed on eight South Sudanese nationals for allegedly fueling the conflict.

The African Union also pleaded with member states and humanitarian agencies to help the people who were affected by heavy floods and conflict with humanitarian needs.

“Appeals to the member states and the broader international community to redouble their effort in mobilizing the much needed humanitarian assistance to the people and the government of South Sudan to ease human suffering and restore the dignity of the affected population,” the document added.

On the closing of 5th Governor’s Forum in November 2021, President Salva Kiir said he would graduate unified forces with sticks since they could not purchase weapons due to the arms embargo.

“We have repeatedly informed the UN system about the negative impact this has on the implementation of Chapter 2 of the Agreement, and all we have received in return are more conditions that do not recognize progress achieved so far,” said Kiir.

He added, “As things stand, we will have no option other than to graduate these forces with sticks.”

Under the September 2018 revitalized peace agreement, South Sudan is supposed to graduate 83,000 unified forces drawn from the various parties to the peace deal to take charge of security during the ongoing transitional period.

The calls for lifting of an arms embargo on South Sudan has equally been contested by human rights groups and campaigners who the country leaders of human rights abuses.

In April 2020, Amnesty International said it had revealed evidence of arms embargo violations, including newly imported small arms and ammunition, illicit concealment of weapons, and diversion of armored vehicles for unauthorized military purposes.

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