From: The Honorable Thomas J. Rooney
Congressman Rooney will be sending the below letter to the members of the UN Security Council urging their support of a resolution imposing an arms embargo on South Sudan in order to stem the escalating ethnic violence and avert the imminent risk of genocide
in the country. Given the urgency of the situation, the deadline to sign is
tomorrow, December 15 at NOON. Current signatories include: Rooney, Capuano, McGovern, DesJarlais, Bass, Lee, Engel, Lewis, Cicilline, DeFazio, Rush, Crowley, Hoyer, Royce, Connolly.
Please let us know as soon as possible if your boss would like to sign on!
Background: Tomorrow marks three years since fighting in Juba, South Sudan’s capital, ignited a brutal conflict that has since
displaced three million people, including nearly 1.9 million who are internally displaced and more than 1.3 million fleeing as refugees to neighboring countries. Continued escalation of ethnically-motivated violence, coupled with reports of the government
mobilizing thousands of forces to conduct wide-scale attacks, prompted the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide,
to issue a warning last month that South Sudan is “fertile ground” for genocide.
The UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan found that “there is already a steady process of ethnic cleansing underway in several areas of South Sudan using starvation, gang rape and the burning of villages. The stage is being set for a repeat of what
happened in Rwanda, and the international community is under an obligation to prevent it.”
To the Member States of the United Nations Security Council:
We are writing to urge your support of a UN Security Council resolution to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan in order to stem the escalating ethnic violence and avert the imminent risk of genocide in the country. We believe the international community
bears the collective responsibility to protect the population from wide-scale ethnic violence and rampant gross human rights violations, which have continued unabated since December 2013 and have brought the country to the brink of famine and genocide.
The Security Council has repeatedly emphasized that there can be “no military solution” to the situation, but evidence suggests that both sides continue to seek arms and, as the UN Panel of Experts on South Sudan reports, incentives for violence have multiplied.
The government’s ongoing acquisition and employment of heavy weapons systems has enabled it to mount large-scale attacks in densely populated areas and to encroach into the territory and airspace of a neighboring sovereign country, as evidenced by its deployment
of attack helicopters into the Democratic Republic of the Congo in pursuit of opposition forces in August 2016. Horrendous violations against civilians continue to be reported on a regular basis and, according to the UN Refugee Agency’s most recent data, more
than three million people have been displaced, including nearly 1.9 million who are internally displaced and more than 1.3 million fleeing as refugees to neighboring countries.
Additionally, according to UN human rights investigators, rape is “one of the tools being used for ethnic cleansing” and 70 percent of the women in Juba, South Sudan’s capital, have experienced sexual assault since the onset of the civil war. Over eight
million people are facing some degree of food insecurity – roughly three quarters of the population – and the situation is likely to deteriorate, potentially reaching famine-level conditions in certain areas throughout the country. We echo the Panel of Experts’
grim assertion that “the continued belligerence of the government … remains the principal factor driving the extension and expansion of the war in South Sudan and … the government has consistently failed to demonstrate any willingness to alleviate what is
by every empirical measure among the worst country-wide humanitarian emergencies in the world.”
A UN arms embargo on South Sudan would signal to the government that its actions do not warrant it equal standing with other sovereign nations that may freely purchase weapons on legitimate international markets – because those countries do not use those
weapons to systematically kill their own citizens. Furthermore, because those weapons systems already in the country are serviced by non-South Sudanese nationals, an arms embargo would serve the purpose of compelling these foreign actors to halt their services
once they are deemed illegal and unacceptable by the international community. We believe an embargo that is clearly tied to human rights violations and whose lifting is preconditioned on a lasting cessation of hostilities will not only lessen the scale of
the atrocities, but also create a more conducive climate to restart long-stalled political and diplomatic efforts to develop a viable path forward for peace.
We appeal to the members of the UN Security Council to take action to curb the fighting and avert genocide in South Sudan and urge your support of a resolution to impose an arms embargo before the end of the year. The status quo serves only to embolden and
endorse the actions of the current government, which will continue committing gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law with impunity. Without your immediate action, reconciliation will remain elusive – exacerbating the costs of war
paid by the people of South Sudan as well as by the international community, which will ultimately shoulder the financial burden of this impending humanitarian catastrophe.
The UN Security Council and its constituent member states, including U.S. allies and partners, have been presented with incontrovertible evidence of just such a catastrophe unfolding, and history will not excuse inaction.