23 December 2016 - South Sudan: risks of violence and mass atrocities [fr]
Security Council meeting on South Sudan - Explanation of vote by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - 23 December 2016
Three years ago, almost to the day, the conflict in South Sudan began. In those three years, civilians have been the target of unspeakable violence and abuse, amply documented by the United Nations, the African Union and civil society organizations. The situation in South Sudan continues to be one of the worst in the world. The humanitarian consequences are tragic and the needs of the population are staggering. The security situation remains very volatile and, over the past weeks, the Security Council has considered the risks of retaliation and intensification, as well as violence and mass atrocities. The special session of the Human Rights Council, held last week in Geneva, underscored our collective concern over the grim state of affairs.
In that context, France deeply regrets that the draft resolution submitted by the United States could not garner the necessary support in the Council to be adopted. As is well-known and as we have expressed on several occasions in this Chamber, France has long supported an arms embargo on South Sudan. We regret that it was not proposed earlier, when it could have enjoyed broad support from the Council. In our eyes, such a measure is fully warranted by the imperative of protecting civilians. The steady inflow of arms into South Sudan fuels violence by creating the illusion that a military solution to the conflict is possible. In the hands of the enemies of peace, those weapons facilitate the commission of the worst abuses against civilians. It is the responsibility of the Council to do all that it can to reduce that risk and the arms embargo would surely have helped.
The embargo could have also helped the political process by changing the equation for those who favour a military solution. It could have been a push for peace. Its contribution to reducing violence could have brought about a favourable environment and conciliatory political dialogue. As the Council has affirmed repeatedly, a lasting solution to the violence in South Sudan can only be political and an embargo could have helped.
A few days ago, the Council unanimously renewed the mandate of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (see PV.7840). As the population of South Sudan is at the mercy of violence and abuse, we hope that the Council will once again unanimously decide to come to their aid. Let us be aware of our shared responsibility to prevent a new cycle of mass atrocities in South Sudan, as the Secretary-General has warned us about, and to bring about a positive dynamic. Today’s vote only highlights the need for the Council to remain mobilized to work for peace and security in South Sudan.