UN extends mandate of peacekeeping mission in South Sudan after deadlock

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After its expiration on Thursday and a deadlock on its mandate, the UN Security Council approved on Friday a one-year extension of the mandate of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

The unanimously adopted resolution extended the mandate to December 15, 2017 and maintained 17,000, including a 4,000-strong Regional Protection Force with 2,101 police personnel, and 78 corrections officers.

The council demanded that the leaders of the country implement the permanent ceasefire declared in the peace agreement and respective ceasefires.

Also, the UNMISS will “use all necessary means to deter and prevent sexual and gender-based violence within its capacity and areas of deployment, and monitor, investigate, verify and report specifically and publicly on violations and abuses committed against children and women.”

The renewal of the mandate was postponed twice since it was circulated to the council last Friday as a result of failure by council members to come to an agreement.

The controversy surrounded a proposed draft tabled by the United States to impose arms embargo and targeted sanctions (assets freezes and travel bans) on three key government and opposition figures including chief of staff of the government’s army, minister of information and opposition leader Riek Machar.

Only France, New Zealand, Spain, the UK, the US, Ukraine and Uruguay were in favour of both additional targeted sanctions and an arms embargo while the others including Russia, China, Venezuela and the African country members of the Security Council – Angola, Senegal, Egypt – are opposed to them.

Also some members did not favour the draft’s affirmation of imposing “appropriate measures” if the government of South Sudan continues to obstruct the mission or prevent the Regional Protection Force from becoming operational while China, Egypt, Russia and Venezuela abstained.

The US later removed the clause regarding widespread violence and disregard for the ceasefire as a trigger for the consideration of “appropriate measures.”