The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution today creating a system to impose sanctions on those blocking peace in South Sudan, hoping it will press rival leaders into ending a conflict that has killed tens of thousands in the world’s newest country.
The resolution drafted by the United States says an arms embargo is possible if the warring sides can’t stick to a peace deal. Talks between the government and rebels continue this week in Ethiopia, with a Thursday deadline to reach a decisive peace agreement.
“Those who frustrate peace must begin to pay the price,” US Ambassador Samantha Power said.
The resolution doesn’t explicitly name South Sudan President Salva Kiir or rebel leader Riek Machar as possible targets for sanctions that would include an asset freeze and travel ban, but it says people affected could include “leaders of any entity.”
Multiple cease-fires in South Sudan have failed during more than a year of fighting that has had ethnic overtones. Two million people have been displaced.
South Sudan’s rebels today warned that the latest peace talks could fail if the government does not make concessions, especially on the issue of how to share power in a possible unity government. Kiir arrived in Ethiopia early today to attend direct talks with Machar.
The resolution comes after months of threats by the US and others to impose sanctions over the conflict, though some countries had wanted more support for the idea from regional actors such as the African Union. As time passed, international calls for action grew.