Campaign group demands arms embargo on S.Sudan

July 17, 2014 (NAIROBI) – The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) must impose a comprehensive arms embargo on South Sudan, after reports emerged that its warring parties were involved in proliferation of Chinese small arms and ammunition, a campaign group urged.

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A United Nations Security Council session (UN)

Amnesty International, in a statement issued Thursday, said it had confirmed that China supplied a further 1,000 tonnes of small arms and light weapons worth $38 million to the young nation two weeks ago.

“China is playing a dangerous diplomatic game with the lives of millions of people in South Sudan. It has pledged to provide peacekeeping troops to protect civilians, and at the same time has sent over 1,000 tonnes of arms,” said Elizabeth Ashamu Deng, South Sudan Researcher at Amnesty International.

“Such arms are likely to fall into the hands of both parties to the conflict and be used to fuel the atrocities threatening civilian lives”, she added.

The UNSC, of which China is a permanent member, has already condemned violations of international humanitarian law in South Sudan, including extrajudicial executions and ethnically targeted violence. Russia, France, United States and Britain are the other members of the Security Council with veto powers.

South Sudan has been in turmoil since mid-December last year, while regional efforts by the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to end the conflict faces several huddles.

The UNSC, in May, extended the mandate of its peacekeeping mission in the young nation, with more focus on protection of civilians, supporting the implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement, investigating human rights abuses and violations and creating conditions for delivery of humanitarian assistance.

China reportedly pledged a full battalion of some 850 troops for South Sudan’s peace mission to boost the 12,500 troops and 1,323 police forces approved by the UNSC in December last year.

South Sudanese defence minister Kuol Manyang Juuk confirmed to Bloomberg news agency the purchase of the weapons, which the China North Industries Group Corp., the nation’s biggest arms manufacturer known as NORINCO, shipped through Kenya’s Mombasa port last month.

“This additional flow and proliferation of deadly equipment from China into South Sudan’s raging war will set the country back decades and pave the way for increased criminality and violence among civilians – even long after the current armed conflict ends,” said Ashamu.

“Given the ongoing pattern of atrocities in South Sudan, it is a no-brainer that these weapons and munitions will be used to commit and facilitate further serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law”, she added.

“The Security Council must roundly condemn any such flows of weapons and impose a comprehensive embargo on all arms transfers to South Sudan.”

Both the US and European Union have already suspended military support to South Sudan in the wake of what it considered crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by the two parties in the conflict.

Meanwhile, the Security Council has expressed concerns over reports that both parties in the South Sudanese conflict were recruiting and acquiring weapons in violation of the 10 June agreement signed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The Security Council “stands ready to consider appropriate measures in consultation with countries of the region against those who will not implement the commitment to peace in South Sudan”, Olivier Nduhungirehe, the president of the council for July, said.

The world body further said it was alarmed by increasing levels of violence in the country, urging the warring parties to halt the fighting that displaced nearly 1.5 million civilians.