Despite the progress in negotiations during June 2018, during which the two main protagonists met for the first time in two years and signed the Khartoum Declaration declaring a permanent ceasefire, the UN Security Council narrowly passed UNSCR 2428 on 13 July 2018, following up on its previous threats to apply an arms imports embargo on all parties to the conflict in South Sudan. The Council also listed two additional individuals, both on the government side, with detailed descriptions of the reasons for their designations spelled out in an Annex to the resolution. It did not follow through on designations of the three senior government ministers threatened with targeted sanctions when UNSCR 2418 was passed on 31 May 2018.
The resolution, tabled by the US as pen-holder, was contested by other members of the Council, passing with the bare minimum of nine votes necessary for a substantive resolution, with six abstentions (including China, Russia, and Ethiopia). Ethiopia argued that the restrictive measures would be counter-productive and could jeopardize the mediation efforts still underway. The US countered that it had lost patience with the protagonists to the conflict and their previous assurances of a ceasefire and that given the continued violence committed against civilians in the preceding months, the continuation of the status quo in South Sudan was “unacceptable.”
Despite concerns regarding the impact of the new sanctions on the conflict dynamics, negotiations continued throughout July under the tutelage of Sudan’s President Bashir, and Kiir and Machar signed an Agreement on Outstanding Issues of Governance and Responsibility Sharing in Khartoum on 5 August 2018. The South Sudan Opposition Alliance and Former Detainees also signed the agreement, which calls for the reinstatement of Machar as first Vice President and the creation of an independent boundaries commission to address the number of states and their boundaries. A “final” agreement addressing the distribution of ministerial posts, humanitarian issues, and justice and reconciliation issues was reached in September 2018, when the two sides signed the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. According to some South Sudan specialists, the renewed impetus for a rapprochement was driven by the desire of Mr Kiir and Mr Machar to avoid targeted individual sanctions from the US government and the UN for their role in the continuing cycles of violence. Once again, however, fresh violence in South Sudan just days after the government and rebels signed the power-sharing deal cast doubts on the durability of the agreement.
Coerce the main parties to agree to a negotiated settlement of the conflict, including a permanent ceasefire.
Constrain both sides from continuing to carry out military operations (including against civilians).
Signal opposition to human rights violations and support for the political transition process following the signature of the Agreement on Resolution of the Conflict in Republic of South Sudan of August 2015, the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement of 21 December 2017, the Khartoum Declaration of 27 June 2018, and the Revitalised Agreement on the resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan on 12 September 2018).
Ongoing individual / entity asset freeze and individual travel ban (on those whose actions and policies have the purpose or effect of expanding or extending the conflict in South Sudan or obstructing reconciliation or peace talks or processes, including breaches of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and the Khartoum Declaration).
Newly imposed arms imports embargo on all parties to the conflict.
Sanctions imposed for a limited time period (1 year) and renewed periodically. Sanctions Committee and Panel of Experts in place. Designation criteria specified and targets designated (current and maximum number of designees during the episode – 8 individual designees, on both sides of the conflict). Enforcement authorities not specified.
Both of the main protagonists (Kiir and Machar) signed the August and September 2018 agreements, but it is too soon to tell whether implementation will take place this time around.
Threat of sanctions on senior government officials may have played a role in the decision to sign the August and September 2018 agreements, but IGAD negotiation efforts appeared more significant to the outcome.
Ceasefire violations were reported in the immediate aftermath of the September agreement, but they do not appear to have been sustained.
Neighboring states did not support the arms embargo and are unlikely to enforce it; there has been very little time for implementation.
UNSCRs contain a large number of normative injunctions (ending armed conflict, protection of civilians, support for the transition process, opposition to armed violence against civilians, hindrance of humanitarian actors, recruitment of child soldiers, systematic use of rape, potential crimes against humanity, etc.), diffusing the signal; the eight individual designations signaled some balance between the two parties, suggesting stigmatization of both sides for attacks on civilian populations (though five of the eight designees are associated with the government, tipping the balance of responsibility slightly against the government).
UNSCR 2428 signaled UNSC concerns, but IGAD’s diplomatic activity was as important as sanctions or threats of sanctions in signaling resolve.
Insufficient information available at present.