The mandate of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) expired on Thursday yet a decision to renew its mandate by the UN Security Council has remained in limbo.
The renewal of the mandate has been postponed twice since it was circulated to the council last Friday as a result of failure by council members to come to an agreement.
The controversy surrounds a proposed draft tabled by the United States to impose arms embargo and targeted sanctions (assets freezes and travel bans) on three key government and opposition figures including chief of staff of the government’s army, minister of information and opposition leader Riek Machar.
We are working to develop the strongest possible mandate renewal to give UNMISS the tools it needs to fulfill its mission.
Only France, New Zealand, Spain, the UK, the US, Ukraine and Uruguay are in favour of both additional targeted sanctions and an arms embargo while the others including Russia, China, Venezuela and the African country members of the Security Council – Angola, Senegal, Egypt – are opposed to them.
Also some members do not favour the current draft’s affirmation of imposing “appropriate measures” if the government of South Sudan continues to obstruct the mission or prevent the Regional Protection Force from becoming operational while China, Egypt, Russia and Venezuela abstained.
The US later removed the clause regarding widespread violence and disregard for the ceasefire as a trigger for the consideration of “appropriate measures.”
A US diplomat told AFP that the 15 countries of the Council could give themselves a month of reflection by temporarily prolonging the current mandate of the UNMISS.
“We are working to develop the strongest possible mandate renewal to give UNMISS the tools it needs to fulfill its mission,” they quoted the unnamed official.
The Security Council decided to add 4,000 men to the 14,000 Regional Protection Force in the country, but the South Sudanese government was hesitant until in November when it agreed.
The outgoing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned against an impending genocide in South Sudan if the Security Council remains divided.