UN Security Council prods Sudan and South Sudan back to talks
The UN Security Council voted to impose economic sanctions on Sudan and South Sudan if they don't stop fighting immediately and restart mediation over oil revenues and borders.
The United Nations Security Council has voted to impose economic sanctions on Sudan and South Sudan if the two countries don’t cease their fighting immediately and go back to the negotiating table to settle their disputes over territory and oil revenues.Skip to next paragraph
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The two countries, which separated peacefully in July 2011 after a referendum, have been fighting a low-level war since early April, after South Sudan seized an oilfield in Heglig, a town that both Sudan and South Sudan claim. The South Sudanese assault on Heglig followed weeks of aerial bombing raids over South Sudanese territory and months of bickering over how to divide the revenues from oil that is produced in the land-locked country of South Sudan, all of which must be pumped through northern pipelines in order to reach global markets. South Sudan claims that the north, which charges $32 to $36 per barrel, is charging too much in pumping fees.
In the UN Security Council vote – which both Russia and China supported, despite initial reservations – Sudan and South Sudan must commit to a cessation of fighting within 48 hours, and immediately return to mediation over its disputes on demarcation of borders and oil-transport fees. If either country fails to do so, they face economic sanctions, such as the partial or total cutoff of rail, air, sea, postal, and electronic linkages between these countries and the rest of the world.
South Sudan welcomed the UN resolution, but Sudan said that it needed to study it.
"It is also essential that both parties return at once to the negotiating table under the auspices of the African Union High-level Implementation Panel to reach agreement on critical outstanding issues,” said the US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, after the vote. “We support the plans of the African of the African Union to travel to Khartoum and Juba in the coming days to begin the process. This is ultimately the only way that further conflict can be avoided."
With crucial issues, such as the final borders between their countries, left unresolved by the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, Sudan and South Sudan were almost inevitably bound to return to conflict. Diplomats hoped, however, that war fatigue and canny economic self-interest for the two countries would ensure that the two countries keep their dispute in the negotiation room and off the battlefield. One month of fighting and hundreds of deaths later, those hopes have been quashed.