Sanctions will not work in South Sudan, says think tank

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A respected South Sudanese think tank has said sanctions, as has been threatened by the international community and regional countries cannot work in South Sudan.

In its latest Policy Brief, the Sudd Institute says that sanctions may end up hurting South Sudan more because of its fragile nature. It says that sanctions will fail because the country lacks a strong opposition and democratic culture.

A respected South Sudanese think tank has said sanctions, as has been threatened by the international community and regional countries cannot work in South Sudan.

In its latest Policy Brief, the Sudd Institute says that sanctions may end up hurting South Sudan more because of its fragile nature. It says that sanctions will fail because the country lacks a strong opposition and democratic culture.

 

Recently, the international community has increasingly been talking about the possibility of imposing sanctions on South Sudanese warring parties for obstructing the peace process and violating the cessation of hostilities agreement signed in January 2014.

The latest threat was issued last week by the US, with its diplomats circulating a draft resolution to the UN Security Council that established a sanctions committee, as well as an independent panel of experts, to lay the groundwork for possible travel bans and asset freezes on individuals who obstruct peace talks, promote violence, abuse human rights, recruit child soldiers, and impede the work of peacekeepers and aid workers.

The US and the European Union (EU) have already slapped three generals with similar sets of sanctions. The Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Eastern Africa regional body, which is mediating the South Sudanese peace process, along with the African Union (AU), have also joined in issuing threats for regional sanctions.

The Sudd Institute says that that since sanctions are taken as weapons of last resort, they may end effective diplomatic efforts to bring peace to South Sudan.

“When sanctions are imposed and peace is not achieved, diplomacy certainly suffers, as the parties imposing sanctions may lose diplomatic leverage,” says the brief released late this week. Its argues that sanctioning the two principals (Salva Kiir and Riek Machar) won’t work because it antagonizes diplomatic efforts.

“Hence, instead of sanctions, we recommend an application of high-level diplomatic engagement, exemplified by 2014’s visits of Ban Ki Moon and US Secretary of States, John Kerry. This is important because their visits resulted in the first face-to-face meeting of the two principals, President Kiir and former VP Machar,” the brief says.

It further says the threats of sanctions being considered now are not based on evidence that the parties have actually refused to bring peace. It accuses international players of lacking a concrete engagement that is worthy of the magnitude of the crisis.

“The engagement level has been timid, antagonistic and bordering bullying. This type of diplomacy will not produce desirable results. The level of diplomacy that is desired is one that engages both parties with concrete proposals to bridge the differences and not the type that attempts to bully or coerce the parties,” says the institute.

It urges the parties to negotiate in good faith and recognize the urgency to sign a meaningful and workable peace agreement and to bring an end to the untold suffering of citizens.

“This cannot happen when there are no concessions. Both the government and the rebels should make necessary concessions that produce a win-win situation for both parties and the people of South Sudan,” it further says.

It also recommends that faith-based groups should engage in an informal or a parallel dialogue and reconciliation process between principals, the military commanders, communities and other affected parties to soften the hardened positions and reduce bitter feelings.

The Institute says that prominent South Sudanese elders/statesmen respected by both sides could also be tapped to engage the principals and communities.

The current crisis started in December 2013, with troops loyal to the country’s president Kiir, fighting against troops loyal to Machar, and which has fueled a surge of ethnic-based killings.

This comes at a time when the IGAD has just released a timetable for activities that are expected to take place in the coming week, with expectations that a peace deal will be signed early in March.

 

 

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