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International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect
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Arms embargo for South Sudan to protect human rights

Dear President Obama:
We, the undersigned South Sudanese and international organizations, write to urge your support for a United Nations Security Council arms embargo on both parties to the conflict in South Sudan.

The conflict that erupted in Juba thirteen months ago has been characterized by a complete disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law. South Sudan’s capital Juba as well as Upper Nile, Jonglei, and Unity states have seen gruesome attacks on civilians and massive destruction and pillage that amount to war crimes and in some cases acts that should be investigated as crimes against humanity.

Serious human rights abuses by government and opposition forces as well as other armed actors allied to them have also pushed much of the country into one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. An estimated 1.9 million people have already been forced from their homes and large areas remain vulnerable to famine.

We are aware that the US government has provided very significant amounts of aid as well as support to the peace process. Meanwhile, the South Sudanese government has reportedly been using its oil revenue to purchase weapons.

We were encouraged by the US’ suspension of military assistance to South Sudan’s army and your April 4, 2014, executive order with its strong message that the US will not tolerate human rights abuses. But despite repeated condemnation of ongoing fighting in South Sudan by the UN Security Council, the US still has not tabled a resolution calling for an arms embargo, even in the face of the high likelihood of further abuses at the hands of armed actors (…)
An arms embargo would help to halt the supply of weapons to individuals and groups who have committed serious violations of human rights, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and protect civilians at grave risk. Such an embargo should last until there is no substantial risk that weapons, munitions and other military equipment and technology sent to South Sudan will be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

South Sudan’s neighbors have shown support for an arms embargo. Leaders from countries represented in the Intergovernmental Authority of Development (IGAD) regional body issued a statement on November 7, 2014, threatening the belligerents with “denial of the supply of arms and ammunition, and any other material that could be used in war” if the parties to the conflict continue to violate the cessation of hostilities agreement. IGAD reported further violations of this agreement in late 2014 and has since condemned further fighting. The African Union on December 4, 2014, noted the IGAD statement and also threatened “stern action including recourse to the UN Security Council for action”.

The US should immediately table a draft resolution imposing a comprehensive arms embargo on South Sudan and do all it can to ensure its passage(…).
Read the full letter here.

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