The UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution to impose targeted sanctions on the parties and individuals disrupting efforts to restore peace in South Sudan.
The resolution is drafted by the US. It will create a system that will enable the 15-member body to impose bans on those responsible for, or engaged directly or indirectly in actions or policies threatening the peace, security or stability of the war-torn country.
Specifically, the sanctions would apply to those guilty of expanding the conflict or obstructing reconciliation and peace talks or processes. It will also apply to those who are threatening transitional agreements, or undermining the political process and planning, directing or committing human rights abuses, as well as the armed forces or groups who are recruiting or using children as soldiers.
In addition, those targeting civilians or attacking hospitals, religious sites, schools or refugee camps, those obstructing the work of international peacekeeping, diplomatic or humanitarian missions, and those who are hindering the delivery and distribution of humanitarian aid or access to such aid will be targeted.
The resolution proposes one-year travel bans and an asset freeze for designated individuals and entities such as government, opposition or militia groups, and also offers the possibility of an arms embargo in the future.
Since it started in December 2013, the South Sudan conflict has uprooted an estimated 1.9 million people, with nearly 100,000 of them fleeing to bases around the country managed by the UN Missions. It has also placed more than seven million at risk of hunger and disease.
However, a recent peace deal between the governments of South Sudan and the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement (SPLM)-in Opposition had fostered hope of a definitive end to the conflict.
South Sudan UN Ambassador Francis Deng said: "What the president and the government of South Sudan needs is encouragement and support, not condemnation.
"The critical question is whether sanctions are a punishment for failure to make peace or an inducement for peace."
Meanwhile, the council has requested the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to establish of a five-member panel of experts to assist the Sanctions Committee in its work.
The panel members would be tasked with collection and analysis of information regarding the flow of arms and related military assistance to those undermining the peace process and committing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.
The UN is expected to consider renewal of the panel's mandate in March 2016.
Image: The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution to impose sanctions on those blocking peace in South Sudan. Photo: courtesy of UN Photo / Devra Berkowitz.