Remarks at UN Security Council on the Adoption of South Sudan Sanctions Renewal

Ambassador Jonathan Cohen
Acting Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
May 30, 2019


Thank you, Mr. President.

The United States welcomes the Security Council’s support for renewing the South Sudan sanctions regime, including the arms embargo.  If there is to be any chance for lasting peace in South Sudan, we must stop the flow of weapons used to fuel conflict and terrorize civilians and take action against those responsible for undermining the peace.

We are disappointed that this resolution did not receive support from the three African members of the Security Council.  Just three months ago, this Council passed a resolution to “Silence the Guns in Africa,” with strong AU support.  Today, we regret that these abstentions show an unwillingness to stop the flow of weapons to one of the continent’s deadliest civil conflicts.  The measures renewed in this resolution are designed to protect civilians and reduce violence in a country that has borne witness to unspeakable atrocities.  The United States wants to support Africa’s regional and sub-regional bodies to take leading roles in resolving disputes and conflict on the continent.  However, support for this expanded role is difficult to envision if countries in the region are unwilling to support measures that incentivize warring parties to choose peace over war.

Ten months ago, when the Council adopted the sanctions regime that we renewed today, we were told that additional sanctions would undermine the peace process.  We were also told that the time was not right for an arms embargo to prevent the flow of weapons to a country that had seen an estimated 400,000 conflict-related deaths in the last five years.

Since strengthening the sanctions regime and imposing an arms embargo, the warring parties signed a revitalized peace agreement, and there’s been widespread adherence to ceasefire agreements.  While the United States remains concerned about delays in implementing key provisions of the peace agreement and ongoing violence against civilians, it cannot be denied that some initial progress towards peace took place immediately following this Council’s action on sanctions ten months ago.

Mr. President, there are undoubtedly many factors, besides a strengthened sanctions regime, that contributed to that turn of events.  Not least, we are encouraged that regional actors have taken more of a leadership role to encourage and support peace in South Sudan.  We’re counting on the region to maintain pressure on the parties to implement the peace agreement and to uphold the UN arms embargo to prevent the flow of weapons into South Sudan, which would further destabilize the country and the region.

The United States remains ready to consider adjustments to the sanctions regime, including strengthening with additional measures or suspending existing measures, in light of progress, or lack thereof.  We note that under the existing sanctions regime, the parties may request exemptions that would allow them to successfully implement disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration programs.

In conclusion, Mr. President, the United States will support measures that help protect civilians in South Sudan against the horrific violence that’s become routine in their daily lives.  In doing so, the United States supports the people of South Sudan and their aspirations for freedom, peace, and prosperity.

I thank you.