February 20, 2014 (JUBA) – A leading US activist has supported calls for the imposition of sanctions on individuals found to be undermining efforts to resolve the ongoing conflict in the country and hold those found to have committed war crimes accountable.
John Prendergast, the co-founder of the Enough Project, a US-based advocacy group aimed at preventing genocide and crimes against humanity, made the recommendation in his report following a field visit to the South Sudan capital, Juba, and war-ravaged Jonglei state capital, Bor.
The 11-page report, which documents a litany of armed activities, some of which may constitute war crimes, calls for a fundamental shift to enhance transparency and inclusivity in the country, as well as promote democratic ideals.
The report notes that radical change is also needed in the conduct of national dialogue, political reforms and reinvigoration of constitutional review processes and military justice initiatives.
However, the activist noted that it’s imperative that the United States and international community provide incentives and diplomatic pressure in support of ongoing peace negotiations between the two main rivals.
“Ultimately, it will be important for the US and broader international community to be prepared to deploy incentives and pressures in support of the negotiations. Creating real penalties for those undermining peace prospects and support for those who demonstrate serious resolve would be an important assist to the mediators and follow-on internal processes like the constitutional review,” Prendergast said in the report titled Peace Must Come Soon.
The detailed report, which takes its title from a quote attributed to one of the victims of the conflict Prendergast met in Bor, argues that the US must work with other regional and international actors to support peace initiatives and conflict resolution.
“The US should be working with a number of other countries to begin to develop these instruments of leverage. This includes high-level engagement with China to see what is possible for the US and China to do jointly. Targeted sanctions are one instrument to create some accountability for the commission of war crimes and undermining of peace efforts,” he adds.
He said the African Union (AU) has already tabled targeted sanctions on the table which US should follow as well, adding that neighbouring countries involved or potentially involved in the conflict also need to be subject to international pressure.
Meanwhile, the deputy minister of foreign affairs said his government was committed to resolving the conflict, adding that it would be unfortunate if human rights are politicised.
“The government has already made a commitment to resolve this conflict through peaceful means and it would be unfortunate if these efforts are undermined with politicisation and threats. Such stance would not help. They will not create [a] conducive environment [for peaceful resolution of the conflict],” Peter Bashir Gbandi told Sudan Tribune in an exclusive interview on Thursday.