Kiir asks UN Security Council to lift arms embargo

Kiir asks UN Security Council to lift arms embargo
President Salva Kiir Mayardit and other government officials at the meeting with United Nations Security Council (photo credit: courtesy)

President Salva Kiir Mayardit has called on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to lift the arms embargo imposed on South Sudan.

The President was speaking during his meeting with the delegates of the United Nations Security Council on Thursday.

According to the office of the President, Kiir said that armed civilians had been refusing to be disarmed because they bought the guns they possessed.

He said that it was better to lift the arms embargo so that the government could buy arms from civilians as one way of disarming them.

Kiir stressed that disarmament is the best means of solving the existent communal conflicts, which lead to atrocities committed against innocent civilians in the states.

“…President Salva Kiir Mayardit told the UN delegation that since the civilians are resisting the voluntary disarmament exercise due to the fact that they used their money during the conflict to buy guns, he is thinking of an idea for the government to offer to buy off those guns from the civilians as a means of encouraging voluntary disarmament from the citizens, to collect those guns from the civilians and destroy them,” read a statement seen by The City Review.

He further urged the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to obtain information from the right sources so as not to decide and act based on wrongly acquired information.

Not to be lifted

In May, Amnesty International published a report claiming that the time was not ripe to lift the arms embargo. The report warned that if the arms embargo were lifted, there could be dire consequences attached to it.

The call came ahead of the UN Security Council’s polls on May 27, where they were to decide on the future of the arms embargo.

“The Security Council must ensure a range of human rights benchmarks are met before the embargo can be lifted,” read the report.

 “These include an end to crimes under international law, reform of the National Security Service, and the establishment of a hybrid court to ensure accountability.”

Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Sarah Jackson, said that ten (10) years of South Sudan’s independence had not yielded in respect for human rights.

“South Sudan’s hard-won independence 10 years ago has sadly not resulted in respect for human rights. State security forces repress freedom of expression, including media freedoms, and both state security forces and armed groups continue to violate international humanitarian law, in some cases amounting to war crimes, with impunity, ” she said.

“When the Security Council assesses keeping or lifting the arms embargo on South Sudan, it must, at a minimum, set the bar at halting these violations and ending impunity.”

Arms embargo imposed

The South Sudanese government has been accused of not protecting civilians from being killed, displaced, and raped by armed groups and militias.

Among the areas of impunity in South Sudan were the burning of villages, raping of young girls and boys, using forced starvation as a war tactic, shooting of civilians, and other crimes against humanity that were said to have remained unpunished.

The UNSC imposed an arms embargo on South Sudan on July 13, 2018, barring UN member states from preventing the supply, sale, and transfer of arms and ammunition, military vehicles, and spare parts to the country.

The arms embargo does not only apply to arms but stretches to technical support, training, finances, and any other assistance concerning military activities.

The United Nations arms embargo was to expire on May 31, 2021.