Joint Letter to UN Security Council Members on South Sudan

Dear Ambassador,

As human rights, humanitarian, and peacebuilding organizations, we call on the UN Security Council to impose an immediate arms embargo on South Sudan.

The Transitional Government of National Unity, led by President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Machar, is failing to uphold its responsibility to protect populations in South Sudan from mass atrocities. The UN Security Council must act now to protect civilians.

In line with the UN Secretary-General’s recommendations, the UN Security Council should impose a comprehensive global arms embargo on the country. This should include the supply, sale, transfer, maintenance, and operation of all weapons, ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, and related services. This will help reduce unlawful attacks on civilians. It will send a strong message that the international community will not enable those fighters who have shown a complete disregard for the laws of war easy access to weapons and ammunition with which they can rearm and commit or facilitate further abuses.

We encourage the UN Security Council to adhere to the Code of Conduct, endorsed by 112 governments, which calls upon all members of the Council not to vote against a credible draft resolution aimed at preventing or halting mass atrocities.

As you know, on 7 July violence resumed in Juba between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the SPLA in Opposition (SPLA-IO). The UN has reported that hundreds of people were killed, including two UN peacekeepers, in five days of fierce fighting before a cessation of hostilities was called by both sides. Tanks, helicopter gunships and heavy weaponry were used; civilian neighborhoods were shelled, during which a maternity ward was hit. Thousands of civilians fled to UN compounds which were also hit by mortar and heavy artillery.

Indiscriminate attacks and attacks on UN personnel are serious violations of international humanitarian law and may constitute war crimes.

A comprehensive global arms embargo on South Sudan would help secure the safety of South Sudanese civilians. We urge you to put one in place urgently, and we would be pleased to discuss these issues further.

1. African Centre for Transitional Justice
2. Agency for Independent Media
3. Amnesty International
4. Assistance Mission for Africa
5. Citizens for Peace and Justice
7. Community Empowerment for Rehabilitation and Development
8. Control Arms
9. End Impunity Organization
10. Enough
11. Federation of Women Lawyers-South Sudan
12. Foundation for Youth Initiative
13. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
14. Human Rights Development Organization
15. Human Rights Watch
16. International Youth for Africa
17. Manna Development Agency
18. Organization for Nonviolence and Development
19. Oxfam
20. PAX
21. Peace and Development Collaborative Organization
22. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
23. Resolve LRA Crisis Initiative
24. Refugees International
25. South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms
26. South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy
27. South Sudan Youth Peace and Development Organization
28. Soweto Community-Based Organization
29. Standard Action Liaison Focus
30. Waging Peace