South Sudan: Finding A Way Forward After the July 2016 Crisis
On 7 July, 2016, armed clashes between the South Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the South Sudan People’s Liberation Movement–In Opposition (SPLM–IO) occurred in Juba. Over the course of the next days, hundreds (possibly thousands) of soldiers and civilians were killed in heavy fighting. The humanitarian situation that resulted is horrific and accounts of destroyed and looted properties, summary executions along ethnic lines and widespread sexual violence, including gang rape, abound. A cease-fire that was declared on Monday, 11 July 2016, continues to be violated by fighting in areas surrounding Juba, Yei and the Upper Nile region. The many political shuffles and appointments diverging from the peace agreement bring the country in a very unstable situation. If the situation is not stabilised and confidence in the ARCSS not restored, South Sudan will be back at war. In response to the violence, the international community has proposed an arms embargo and a regional protection force. This policy paper offers an analysis of these two options by South Sudanese civil society organisations that are part of the Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG).
It offers concrete recommendations for the SPLM, SPLM-IO, IGAD, the AU, the United Nations and development partners.
After much opposition to the deployment of additional foreign troops, the government of South Sudan has consented to the regional protection force. The fierce opposition put questions of sovereignty and intervention in humanitarian crises on the table. This paper applies the basic guidelines of the responsibility to protect to the situation in South Sudan and concludes that the South Sudanese government has abused its sovereignty by targeting the very citizens it has the responsibility to protect. It has therefore made itself liable to humanitarian intervention. Many of these acts are allegedly perpetrated against women and children. The TJWG strongly recommends that the regional protection force be mandated to actively help arrest and bring to justice those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity, with a particular focus on women and children.
The TJWG considers an arms embargo part of the way forward to achieving stability and peace in South Sudan and calls upon the UN Security Council to impose one for South Sudan that is meticulously monitored and heavily enforced. In all realism, an arms embargo will not succeed in stopping the complete flow of arms into the targeted country and that, with the widespread availability of arms in South Sudan, it will not put an end to the fighting. It must be reinforced with a regional protection force backed up by a clear political plan for peace and exit strategy.
In the paper, the TJWG looks to the 2013 intervention of the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Economic Community of West African States Cease-fire Monitoring Group’s (ECOMOG) intervention in Liberia in the 1990’s for lessons learned. It draws six lessons that must inform decisions taken in relation to the regional intervention force in South Sudan.