Documents considered by the Committee on 21 July 2015 - European Scrutiny Contents


66 EU restrictive measures: South Sudan

Committee's assessment Politically important
Committee's decisionCleared from scrutiny
Document details(a) Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/740 of 7 May 2015 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in South Sudan and repealing Decision 2014/449/CFSP

(b) Council Regulation (EU) 2015/735 of 7 May 2015 concerning restrictive measures in respect of the situation in South Sudan, and repealing Regulation (EU) No. 748/2014

Legal baseCouncil Decision: Article 29 TEU; unanimity

Council Regulation: Article 215 TFEU; QMV

DepartmentForeign and Commonwealth Office
Document numbers(a) 36895,— (b) 36896,—

Summary and Committee's conclusions

66.1 Last July, the BBC pithily summed up South Sudan's story thus:

"SOUTH SUDAN - TIMELINE OF TROUBLE

"1962-2005: Mainly Christian and animist South Sudanese fight mostly Muslim, Arabic-speaking northerners

"2011: South Sudan gains independence; hundreds of thousands of refugees go home

"One of world's least developed countries

"Numerous rebellions

"Governed by former rebel group SPLA

"2013: President Salva Kiir sacks Vice-President Riek Machar and accuses him of plotting a coup

"Machar denies charges but heads a rebellion

"Fighting takes on ethnic dimension between Kiir's Dinka community and Machar's Nuers

"Thousands killed, about a million forced from their homes."[ 478]

66.2 In 2014 a Council Decision and a Council Regulation provided for the creation of a separate EU South Sudan sanctions regime until 12 July 2015, separating them from previous measures concerning Sudan, and integrating them into a single legal act. The arms embargo first implemented in 1994 under the Sudan sanctions regime, before South Sudan gained independence in 2011, was continued; travel restrictions and the freezing of funds and economic resources were introduced against persons obstructing the political process in South Sudan, including by acts of violence or violations of ceasefire agreements, as well as persons responsible for serious violations of human rights in South Sudan; and two such individuals are "listed": Peter Gadet, an opposition commander considered responsible for a range of military operations and consequently associated with multiple breaches of ceasefire agreements; and Santino Deng Wol, who has led government forces on military operations in breach of ceasefire agreements.

66.3 On 3 March the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution (UNSCR) 2206 (2015) providing for an asset freeze and travel ban for certain individuals who threaten the peace, security and stability of South Sudan.

66.4 The Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington) explains that this new Council Decision and Regulation, in addition to transposing the UNSCR, retain the arms embargo and the designation of the two individuals which were agreed by the EU prior to the adoption of Resolution 2206 (2015). The legislation also retains the EU's capacity to designate individuals and entities separately from the UN.

66.5 The Minister also explains that (and apologises for the fact that) due to the fact that the draft documents were received after the dissolution of parliament and the need for the UN Security Council resolution to be incorporated into EU law, he found himself having to over-ride scrutiny.

66.6 The measures raise no questions in and of themselves; it remains to be seen if they have the desired outcome.

66.7 In the meantime, we are drawing them to the attention of the House because of the level of interest in the situation in South Sudan.

66.8 We now clear the documents.

66.9 In the circumstances and on this occasion, we do not object to the Minister having over-ridden scrutiny.

Full details of the documents: (a) Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/740 of 7 May 2015 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in South Sudan and repealing Decision 2014/449/CFSP: (36895),—; (b) Council Regulation (EU) 2015/735 of 7 May 2015 concerning restrictive measures in respect of the situation in South Sudan, and repealing Regulation (EU) No. 748/2014: (36896),—.

Background

66.10 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 22 July 2014, Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington) recalled that:

—  the first EU arms embargo on Sudan was imposed in 1994 by Council Decision 94/165/CFSP in response to the civil war in the southern part of the country;

—  in response to a renewed outbreak of civil war in the Sudanese region of Darfur in 2003, the UN Security Council imposed an arms embargo on Sudan on 30 July 2004, through UN Security Council Resolution 1556;

—  Council Common Position 2004/31/CFSP and Council Regulation No. 131/2004 maintained and strengthened the existing EU arms embargo imposed by Council Decision 94/165/CFSP, in view of the ongoing civil war in Sudan at that time;

—  on 9 July 2011, South Sudan became independent;

—  accordingly, on 18 July 2011, the Council adopted Decision 2011/423/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Sudan and South Sudan, extending the existing Sudan arms embargo to also cover South Sudan; and

—  on 24 November 2011, the Council adopted Regulation (EU) No. 1215/2011 which extended the scope of application of the arms embargo to South Sudan.

66.11 The Minister went on to say that, at that time, both sides had failed fully to honour their commitments to cease hostilities and engage in meaningful talks. International unanimity and pressure, including through targeted sanctions, would send a strong message to both sides about resolving the conflict through dialogue. Peter Gadet was an opposition commander considered responsible for a range of military operations in Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile States, and consequently associated with multiple breaches of ceasefire agreements; similarly, Santino Deng Wol commanded the third infantry division of the army and had led government forces on military operations in Unity State in breach of ceasefire agreements.

66.12 He highlighted the then Government's commitment to such targeted, legally robust designations as an important tool in order to bring both sides to a negotiated political settlement. However, he noted, if an individual or entity did not fulfil the criteria for designation under the sanctions regime, that person or entity should not be listed "even if their actions might be considered distasteful or unsavoury".[ 479]

66.13 On 11 May, the EU issued the following statement:

"The armed conflict in South Sudan has intensified in recent days, exacerbated by a new military offensive in Unity State. Concerned by the humanitarian consequences of the fighting and the difficulties faced by relief organisations on the ground, HRVP Mogherini and Commissioner Stylianides made the following statement:

"South Sudan's man-made crisis has caused one of the worst humanitarian disasters of recent years. The renewed fighting in Unity State is a serious breach of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, forcing thousands of civilians to flee their homes. It is essential that all parties respect the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement throughout the country in order to spare the suffering of innocent civilians and to facilitate the life-saving work of humanitarian organisations. All parties have an obligation to protect and respect civilians irrespective of their ethnic origin or political affiliation.

"There can be no military solution to this conflict. Only a concerted effort by political leaders to reach a negotiated solution will bring an end to the suffering of the people of South Sudan and enable them to live in peace and allow the country to resume its development. Responsibility for this rests on the shoulders of those leaders. If they fail to make the necessary effort for peace, they will inevitably be held responsible also for the consequences."[ 480]

The Minister's Explanatory Memorandum of 29 May 2015

66.14 In his Explanatory Memorandum, the Minister says:

—  on 3 March 2015, the UN Security Council adopted Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2206 (2015) providing a framework for sanctions including a travel ban and asset freeze measures for use against certain persons responsible for, complicit in or having engaged in, directly or indirectly, actions or policies that threaten the peace, security or stability of South Sudan;

—  currently there are no UN designations, but the resolution provides the UN Security Council with the means to apply sanctions against individuals who meet the designation criteria, in support of resolving the conflict in South Sudan;

—  the Council Decision and Regulation being submitted for Parliamentary scrutiny integrate the sanctions measures provided for by UNSCR 2206 (2015) as well as the measures previously imposed by the EU through Decision 2014/449/CFSP and Regulation (EU) No. 748/2014, combining them into single legal instruments; and

—  the legislation retains the arms embargo and the designation of two individuals as previously agreed by the EU.

66.15 The Minister notes that UNSCR 2206 (2015) sets out the UN's serious concern regarding the conflict between Government and Opposition forces which began in December 2013, and which has resulted in human suffering, loss of life and the displacement of 2 million people (including more than 1.5 million internally displaced people and 500,000 refugees).

66.16 He goes on to explain that the resolution supports the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which has mediated peace talks in order to resolve the conflict; and further states the Security Council's expectation that all parties will participate meaningfully in the peace process, respecting the commitments reached during IGAD negotiations.

66.17 The Minister continues as follows:

"a fundamental IGAD commitment was the Cessation of Hostilities (CoH) Agreement signed by both the Government of the Republic of South Sudan and the Sudan's People Liberation Movement (SPLM) in January 2014. Both parties have, however, failed to honour their commitments and have not engaged in the peace process meaningfully in support of bringing an end to the conflict. Breaches of the CoH Agreement is one of the criteria for designation under the UN sanctions regime."

The Government's view

66.18 The Minister says:

"There can be no military solution to this conflict. Lasting peace and reconciliation rests on the concerted effort by political leaders to reach a negotiated solution through peaceful dialogue and action. The UN's ability to impose sanctions will send an important signal that those who have breached the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement face consequences and that the Security Council is prepared to act against those that undermine the peace, stability and security of South Sudan.

"The UK voted in favour of the Resolution 2206 (2015) supporting the UN framework for the use of targeted sanctions to coerce both sides into agreeing lasting peace in South Sudan. The UK therefore agreed to the adoption of the EU Council Decision and Regulation which implements these provisions into EU and national law. The UK will continue to work closely with the Republic of South Sudan government, as well as United Nations and African Union members, on a wide range of issues which support international peace and stability efforts in South Sudan. This covers the political, security, economic, humanitarian and human rights challenges in South Sudan as well as negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan."

66.19 In a separate letter of the same date, the Minister says:

"The draft Council Decision and Regulation were received by my officials on 13 April. An amended version of the Council Regulation was then received later on 24 April. The documents were then agreed in Brussels on 27 April and formally adopted on 7 May 2015. I therefore did not receive the draft copies in time to pass through the normal scrutiny process before the dissolution of parliament. The Committee will be aware of the need to implement UN restrictive measures promptly. I therefore regret that I found myself in the position of having to agree to the adoption of these Council documents before your Committee will have an opportunity to scrutinise them."

Previous Committee Reports

None, but see (36217), — and (36218), —: Ninth Report HC 219-ix (2014-15), chapter 39 (3 September 2014).


478   See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-28209014.  Back

479   See (36217), - and (36218), -: Ninth Report HC 219-ix (2014-15), chapter 39 (3 September 2014) for full details. Back

480   See statement.  Back


 
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