UN panel accuses South Sudan of breaching arms embargo

Sunday May 07 2023
Armoured personnel carriers

Armoured personnel carriers. A new report by a UN Panel of Experts on South Sudan has accused Juba of a potential breach of an arms embargo imposed on it in 2018 after it appeared to have recently procured new armoured personnel carriers. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


A new report by a UN Panel of Experts on South Sudan has accused Juba of a potential breach of an arms embargo imposed on it in 2018 after it appeared to have recently procured new armoured personnel carriers.

The report says at least 10 armoured personnel carriers, distinct in both design and colour from those purchased in violation of the arms embargo in late 2021 or early 2022, were flagged off by President Salva Kiir for a regional peacekeeping mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“They are also distinct from those known to have been purchased by the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces before the imposition of the arms embargo by the Security Council with a resolution,” the report said.

Army officials

Juba passed a supplementary budget of $6.69 million for the deployment of its army contingent on the regional force. Army officials have stated that these funds were mostly allocated to equipment since salaries of troops deployed as part of the mission are being paid in line with current army salary scales.

According to the report, a commercially available vehicle that matches those observed in South Sudan and is often marketed as the Titan-S, a highly modified and armoured version of a commercially available civilian vehicle, was identified.


‘‘As several companies appear to sell the vehicle in question, however, the Panel has not been able to confirm the supply chain by which the vehicles entered South Sudan,” the report noted.

Several companies in the armour industry told the Panel that it was common for companies to copy the designs of competitors or to simply resell vehicles with new logos and branding.

End civil war

In 2018, the UN Security Council imposed an arms embargo on South Sudan to end a prevailing civil war at that time.

Juba has over the years been lobbying members of the UN Security Council to have the embargo lifted, however on more than two occasions, Juba has been accused of breaching the ban.

The UN expert report also noted that continued delay by South Sudan authorities to implement provisions of a post-war peace agreement could plunge the country into further chaos since many nationals are losing hope in the transition process.

The report says that while some progress has been made towards the implementation of the peace agreement, delays are threatening the peace of the country as many South Sudanese, whose patience, trust in the process, and ability to survive to continue to be tested since the signing of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan in 2018.

Political boundaries

“The patience of many has already been exhausted, however, before several of the most contentious and potentially combustible provisions of the peace agreement have even started, such as drafting the constitution, formalising political boundaries, and conducting a census,” the report said.

February 22, 2023 would have marked the end of a post-war transitional period, but both parties agreed to a two-year extension in August last year.

During this period, the country’s transitional government was supposed to introduce significant reforms that would bring security, economic stability, and development, while remedying the democratic deficit of the current arrangements through a clear timeline toward elections in the world’s youngest country.

Expected reforms

But even with a two-year extension, many of the expected reforms remain far behind schedule to the chagrin of several nationals which threatens the peace process.

First, the report notes, the extension of the transition period alone could be used to undermine the fragile power-sharing structures ahead of the implementation of some of the most challenging provisions of the peace agreement like security provisions, constitution-drafting process, and preparations for elections.

Currently, the institutions required for the constitution-drafting process and formal preparations for elections are yet to be constituted since different parties have not submitted nominees for the National Constitution Review Committee, the Constitution Drafting Committee, and the Preparatory Subcommittee, while Parliament is yet to enact the national elections bill.


According to the report, displacement of people in South Sudan is now at its highest levels since the peace agreement was signed, while food insecurity remains at its highest levels since independence.

“Being a woman or a humanitarian in South Sudan remains as dangerous as ever. More than two-thirds of the population will need humanitarian assistance in 2023. For most, especially outside Juba, the transitional period has not brought tangible progress,” the report says.

This deteriorating humanitarian situation is partly attributed to violence as the country continues to experience serious clashes between well-armed forces leading to deaths, displacement, human rights abuses, conflict-related sexual violence, and impediments to the delivery of humanitarian aid.