Two Options for South Sudan

And Neither of Them Is Good

South Sudanese women and children queue to receive emergency food at the United Nations protection of civilians (POC) site 3 hosting about 30,000 people displaced during the recent fighting in Juba, South Sudan, July 25, 2016. Adriane Ohanesian / Reuters

South Sudan’s fragile peace is falling apart. Five years after the country gained independence, it is on the brink of a return to civil war. The international community, which has already invested a great deal in supporting the nascent state, is running out of options to respond, but is considering two possible steps: deploying troops and imposing an arms embargo. Both options could help halt the country’s slide into chaos, provided that there is the political will and commitment to back them up.


The UN already has a substantial peacekeeping presence of 13,500 troops and police and 2,000 observers in South Sudan. The mission’s mandate is to protect civilians through a variety of means, including political engagement, reporting on human rights violations, and facilitating reconciliation between local communities. But the UN peacekeepers’ most visible effort is at Protection of Civilians (POC) sites. When the civil war began in December 2013,

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