UN to vote on arms embargo and new sanctions on South Sudan

Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers carry heavy weapons near Alole, northern South Sudan, on October 16, 2016. (AFP)
Updated 13 July 2018
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UN to vote on arms embargo and new sanctions on South Sudan

UNITED NATIONS: The Security Council plans to vote Friday on a resolution that would impose an arms embargo on South Sudan and sanctions against a current deputy defense chief and former army chief.
The final draft resolution, obtained Thursday, expresses “deep concern” at the failure of South Sudan’s leaders to end hostilities and condemns “the continued and flagrant violation” of agreements to stop fighting.
The US-sponsored resolution would need a minimum of nine “yes” votes for adoption by the 15-member council. Diplomats said they expected a number of abstentions but no veto.
There were high hopes South Sudan would have peace and stability after its independence from neighboring Sudan in 2011. But the world’s newest nation plunged into ethnic violence in December 2013 when forces loyal to President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, started battling those loyal to Riek Machar, his former vice president who is a Nuer.
A peace deal signed in August 2015 didn’t stop the fighting, nor did a cessation of hostilities agreement this past December and a declaration on June 27.
A resolution adopted by the council May 31 threatened an arms embargo on South Sudan and sanctions against six people if Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reported by June 30 that fighting had not stopped and a political agreement wasn’t reached. Guterres said in a June 29 letter to the council that “there have been credible reports of fighting” and UN peacekeepers had documented serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law
A UN report released Tuesday said South Sudan government troops and allied fighters killed at least 232 civilians in a five-week period this year, hanging some people from trees and burning others alive. It said the “deliberate, ruthless” attacks might amount to war crimes.
At one point during the negotiations on the current draft resolution, seven people would have been added to the sanctions list. But the final draft would add only add two: Malek Reuben Riak Rengu, the deputy chief of the defense staff for logistics, and Paul Malong Awan, the former chief of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army.
The resolution would also order all countries to immediately prevent the direct or indirect supply or sale of weapons, ammunition, military vehicles and other equipment and spare parts to South Sudan until May 31, 2019. And it would extend existing sanctions against South Sudanese officials until that date.
The draft resolution says that arms shipments “risk fueling conflict and contributing to further instability and strongly urges all member states to take urgent action to identify and prevent such shipments within their territory.”
US Ambassador Nikki Haley told the council in January that the United States was giving up on South Sudan’s president after backing the country’s independence and investing over $11 billion since 2011. She called Kiir “an unfit partner” in the pursuit of peace and urged an arms embargo on the conflict-racked nation.


’Pyongyang not the enemy’: South Koreans fed up with military service

Updated 17 min 16 sec ago
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’Pyongyang not the enemy’: South Koreans fed up with military service

  • US President Donald Trump is due to meet the North’s Kim Jong Un in Hanoi for a high-profile summit
  • The bulk of South Korea’s 600,000-strong military are conscripts, who are required to serve for some 20 months

SEOUL: Namgung Jin is anxious as he awaits the start of his military service in South Korea — almost two years in uniform guarding against the nuclear-armed neighbor to the north, with the two countries technically still at war.
But by the time the 19-year-old college student enlists on March 5, just five days after the upcoming US-North Korea summit, some analysts say the Korean War may have been officially declared over.
US President Donald Trump is due to meet the North’s Kim Jong Un in Hanoi for a high-profile summit to make progress on denuclearization of the peninsula, and a possible peace treaty.
If that happens, the future of the South’s controversial conscription system — which forces recruits to serve for months in often remote locations along the militarised border — will likely be up for debate.
For many young South Koreans like Namgung, it will be long overdue.
“I would definitely not want to serve if I were given an option,” he said, describing military service as a “waste of his youth” that delays him securing a job in South Korea’s hyper-competitive society.
Namgung, who was born in 1999 — almost 50 years after the Korean War ended with an armistice — said he rarely associated his service with the threat from the North.
“I’ve never considered North Korea as an enemy,” said Namgung, who studies computer science in Seoul. “I have no harsh feelings against the North. I just think life must be hard for those who live there.”
The bulk of South Korea’s 600,000-strong military are conscripts, who are required to serve for some 20 months.
Almost all able-bodied South Korean men are obliged to fulfil sentry duties, often in remote locations along the heavily militarised border.
Like Namgung, Han Sang-kyu — an 18-year-old who is scheduled to start his military service next year — said he was not hostile to Pyongyang.
“I’ve always considered North and South Koreans one people — I hope the two countries can unify one day,” he said.
Lim Tae-hoon, the director of the Center for Military Human Rights Korea in Seoul, said the Korean War and its legacy are still very much present in the South’s repressive military culture.
“The Korean War started on a Sunday, and a lot of (South) Korean soldiers were off base when the North’s tanks crossed the 38th parallel — the result was traumatic,” Lim told AFP.
“This is inseparable from why today’s soldiers in the South are confined to their bases all the time.”
Until this year conscripts were banned from using mobile phones for security reasons.
A rule that no more than 25 percent of troops can take holiday at the same time means recruits spend long periods of time cooped up together, which has contributed to bullying.
Some 60,000 South Korean recruits are thought to have died since 1953 from a range of causes including suicide, firearm accidents and medical malpractice.
None of them died on the battlefield.
Song Jun-seo, a 18-year-old student who will enlist this year or next, said he wants “some kind of compensation” should the conscription system be abolished after he finishes his service.
“I would be very angry. I don’t want to be the last one to suffer in the system,” he said.
But Kim Dong-yup, an analyst at Kyungnam University, said it was too early to talk about abolishing conscription — and that it will probably take a long time for the country to turn to a volunteer military system, even if the rapprochement with the North progresses.
“North Korea is not the only security threat to the Korean peninsula,” Kim told AFP, citing other neighboring countries and environmental disasters as potential problems.
Some men have taken extreme measures to avoid conscription, including 12 music students who stuffed themselves with protein powder before their medical exam, hoping to be declared too heavy for service.
Others have undergone unnecessary surgery and given themselves broken bones.
Song said he was disappointed by the result of his medical exam earlier this month — he was put in the top category, meaning he will have to serve in the armed forces without question.
“I have a chronic skin condition, so I’d been hoping to be placed in less physically taxing jobs, such as in local government,” Song told AFP.
He said he is scared to join the army because of what has happened to some soldiers while serving.
Song was horrified when he read about a soldier badly injured in 2016 after stepping on a land mine, another relic of the Korean war.
“At least if I were able do the service in local government, I wouldn’t have to worry about the possibility of losing my leg,” he said.