Global Policy Forum

UN SC to Sudan: We’ll Sanction You, You, and You.

Colum Lynch reports on the Security Council’s decision yesterday to condemn both Sudan and South Sudan for cross-border attacks.  This comes after a de facto war, in the border area of Heglig, as well as by proxy in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. The move by the Security Council to temper hostilities between the two nations is a step in the right direction, but the implicit threat of sanctions is misjudged. The loss of oil revenues in the North and the effects of the oil shutdown in the South have already crippled both economies, and sanctions could further encourage cross-border raiding. The nascent South in particular could quickly become ungovernable. An agreement over oil revenues needs to be made, and a UN or AU monitoring force deployed to the border, to avert human disaster and open war.

By Colum Lynch

Foreign Policy
May 2, 2012 

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously today on a resolution condemning South Sudan and Sudan for conducting cross border attacks against one another and threatened possible sanctions if they don't stop fighting and resume political talks aimed at resolving their political and economic differences.

The council's action reflected mounting concern that a surge of fighting between the Khartoum and Juba could pitch the country into a bloody new era of conflict. "The fighting must stop and stop now," Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told the council after the vote. "The current conflict between Sudan and South Sudan is on the verge of becoming a full scale and sustained war."

It is the first time the council has threatened to impose sanctions against Sudan in more than six years, and it is the first time it has ever issued such a threat against the South. Russia and China expressed reservation about the wisdom of threatening such measures, but agreed to support the resolution because the African Union supported it.

Today's vote throws the 15-nation council weight behind an African Union blueprint for peace, and requires the two sides to "unconditionally" resume talks within two weeks to settle a variety of long-standing disputes, including agreements over oil rights and the demarcation of borders and contested territories.

The outbreak of fighting between Sudan and South Sudan constitutes the most serious deterioration of a U.S.-brokered peace process that led to the South declaration of independence in July 2011. The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement agreement ended a 28-year civil war between the north and the south and paved the way for the South's independence. But the two sides failed to resolve a number of outstanding issues, including dispute over the sharing of oil revenues, and differences over several disputed areas.

Acting under Chapter Seven of the U.N. Charter, which is legally binding, the council demands that the two countries "immediately cease all hostilities, including aerial bombardments" that Khartoum is reportedly conducting inside Sudan. It requires that both parties formally convey their commitment to the council to do so within 48 hours.

The text also demands that the two sides "unconditionally withdraw" their armed forces to their own side of the border, and cease any harboring or military support for rebel groups seeking the overthrow of their neighbors governments. 

Following the vote, South Sudan's minister of cabinet affairs Deng Alor said that his government would comply with the council's demand and resume talks. But Sudan's U.N. ambassador, Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, denied that his government had bombarded target in South Sudan and that it would not comply with all the council's demands, saying it may it would be difficult to resume talks with the south if it ends "all forms of support and sheltering of proxy and rebel armed groups." He also objected to a provision of the resolution that "strongly calls" on Sudan, as well as anit-government rebels, to accept a U.N. backed proposal to allow humanitarian access into South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

The resolution calls on U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to brief the council every two weeks on whether Sudan, South Sudan and anti-government armed groups in South Kordofan and Blue Nile are meeting their obligations. "In the even that any or all of the parties have not complied" with its obligation that council will "take appropriate additional necessary."


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