The South Sudanese Civil War has claimed around 383,000 lives and 4 million people have been displaced in five years of horrific violence. Widespread famine has been declared and atrocities have been committed, including the use of child soldiers.
Shockingly, in a 105-page report by an investigative organisation – called Conflict Armament Research – it has been revealed that the EU’s remarkably permissive policies have failed to uphold the standards of the international community on arms control, leading to the leak of weapons from an EU member state into the conflict.
The EU has had an embargo on Sudan since 1994 and was still not lifted, when Sudan came independent in 2011. However, a new report on weapons flows into South Sudan outlines how 4,000 assault rifles and close to 3 million rounds of ammunition were transported from Bulgaria, via Uganda, to the conflict in South Sudan. Now they have ended up in the hands of President Kiir’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and its allies.
The report, which identifies and tracks weapons in war zones, makes it clear that European nations exporting arms to Uganda were not complicit or even aware the arms were diverted to South Sudan. Nonetheless, it highlights the loose restrictions that are weakly enforced by the European Union.
Ammunition exported from 3 EU countries since 2014 has reached parties to South Sudan’s civil war, despite an EU arms embargo. The results of CAR’s 4-year investigation can be found here: https://t.co/jfICBYRZQm pic.twitter.com/bjIdFhEHtr
— CAR (@conflictarm) November 29, 2018
There exists the EU’s ‘common rules governing control of exports of military technology and equipment’ – a mutually agreed framework that is meant to enforce regulation and to control arms sales. Now in theory, it is supposed to prevent the sale of arms and weapons to countries or conflicts where there is a risk of weapons being used to violate international humanitarian law. This is enforced through the use of unique serial numbers that enable the tracking of complex supply chains, from the point of manufacture, through export to the purchaser of the weapon. Despite efforts, these European systems have failed the international community on a number of occasions – including embargoes on China and Egypt, where exports from European countries have begun once again.
Previously, EU leaders have promised that they would pursue a “wider EU efforts to stop violence and avoid further instability in the region”. However, like many of the European bloc’s fantasies, it is another promise unfulfilled.