The Impracticality of Sanctions and Why Diplomacy Makes Sense in South Sudan

The Sudd Institute

Authors: Abraham Awolich, Nhial Tiitmamer

Organization: The Sudd Institute

Type: Policy Briefs

Date: 17/02/2015


Publication Summary

This paper analyses whether sanctions can stop the war in South Sudan. Prior evidence shows that when sanctions in any forms are imposed, they do little in most cases to change the behaviors of the warring parties. Multilateral targeted sanctions, including arms embargo supported by the regional countries, may force the parties to listen. However, sanctions can be difficult to implement due to a wide range of geopolitical, economic and commercial interests that outweigh the benefits the parties may gain from issuing them. In authoritarian states, the lines between individual leaders and the state is very blurry, as leaders take any sanctions on them as a direct hostility to the state.


We argue that since sanctions are taken as weapons of last resort, they may thwart diplomatic efforts to bring peace to South Sudan. When the sanctions are imposed and peace is not achieved, diplomacy will certainly suffer and the parties imposing sanctions would lose any diplomatic leverage. We propose a continued use of high-level diplomatic engagement, instead of sanctions, to help stop the war in South Sudan. The paper suggests that the United States (US), with support from Norway, UK and neighboring states, could achieve this goal by appointing a high profile person to lead peace efforts in South Sudan.


Abraham Awolich's Biography

Abraham Awolich is the Managing Director of the Sudd Institute. Awolich’s research has focused on management of development organizations working in conflict mitigation, governance and business management. Awolich is the co-founder of the Sudan Development Foundation and the former Executive Director of New Sudan Education Initiative (NESEI). Previous to joining the Sudd Institute, Awolich helped establish a secondary school in Yei and a medical clinic in Kalthok, Awerial County. Awolich has a Master’s Degree in Pubic Administration from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Vermont in Anthropology and Business Administration. Awolich is a McNair Scholar and winner of the prestigious Samuel Huntington Public Service Award in 2006.


Nhial Tiitmamer's Biography

Nhial Tiitmamer is the Director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Program at the Sudd Institute and a part-time lecturer at the University of Juba. Before joining The Sudd Institute in 2013, Nhial spent research and consulting stints at Arletta Environmental Consulting in Calgary and at the University of Alberta in Canada. Nhial holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies with a minor in English Literature from the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus and an M.Sc. in Sustainable Energy Development from the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. Nhial is the co-founder of the and has extensively commented and written on issues about South Sudan and Sudan.


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