The Situation in Sudan and South Sudan
By: Patrick Liu
- Opening Statements
- ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda
Ms. Fatou Bensouda, the International Criminal Court’s Chief Prosecutor, briefed the UNSC on her semi-annual report on the work of the court in Darfur. Bensouda began her report by asking the members of the UNSC “how much longer will those in Darfur suffer in silence?”. The prosecutor urged the effective implementation of the original UNSC resolution when Darfur was referred to the ICC. Bensouda cited Sudan’s refusal to cooperate with the ICC. Specifically, she contended that the Sudan has been distracting the ICC from ensuring accountability for serious crimes against humanity in Darfur.
Despite these struggles, the ICC reaffirmed its commitment to the victims in Darfur to apprehend and arrest the 5 standing ICC suspects. In closing, Prosecutor Bensouda urged the UNSC to promote justice and the government of Sudan to engage and cooperate with the ICC.
- Statements from Permanent UNSC Members
- United States
The United States supported the need for justice and accountability of the perpetrators of the war crimes in Darfur, which resulted in 2 million IDPs that face daily life-threatening risks and challenges.
Even though the situation has improved, the US cited the possibility of an upcoming harvest failure. The harvest failure will result in an economic crisis as a possible trigger to the return to conflict and violence. To this point, the US urged Sudan to allow UNAMID and humanitarian organizations to provide aid to civilians in affected regions.
Furthermore the failure to address Al-Bashir undermines international justice and insults victims in Darfur. Consequently, the US urged the UNSC and the international community to continue to put pressure on Sudan address international justice and improve its peace and security situation.
The United Kingdom encouraged the ICC to continue its investigative work in Darfur and bringing justice to the violations to human rights law and crimes against humanity. Furthermore, the UK expressed its concerns about the ongoing violence and conflict in the Sudan. Additionally, the UK urged the Sudan to cooperate with UNAMID.
France reiterated its ongoing position in combating the perpetrators, who caused and continue to exacerbate the conflict in Darfur as well as President Al-Bashir of Sudan. The instability that has ensued in Sudan has resulted in some 2 million IDPs. France urged the need to focus on these humanitarian issues and end violence against civilians by addressing the root causes of the conflict. In this aspect, political dialogue is the only solution and UNAMID is essential to ensuring this process. Lastly, France iterated the importance of international cooperation with the ICC.
4. Russian Federation
The Russian Federation noted that the recent report by the Prosecutor of the ICC did not update the UNSC on any changes, as it only addressed the situation with President Al-Bashir. The Russian Federation lambasted the ICC appeal for member-states to arrest the sitting President of Sudan. Russia iterated the immunity enjoyed by high officials without exceptions and rejected ICC beliefs and accusations against President Al-Bashir. Russia furthermore cited the decreasing levels of trust and credibility of the ICC due to their recent controversial decisions.
China acknowledged the progress that the government of Sudan has made on peace and security in Darfur. Because the progress proves Sudan’s capability to control its state, China urged the international community, including the UNSC and the ICC, to respect the sovereignty of the Sudanese government. China commended the original referral of the situation to the ICC, but refuted the ICC’s charge to the Sudanese President because of “special immunity” for heads of states.
- Statements from Other UNSC Members
- Western European and Other Groups
The Netherlands underscored its full support for the ICC in its efforts to address rule of law and improve the peace and security situation in Darfur. In regards to the outstanding arrest warrants issued by the ICC, the Netherlands expressed its disappointment that states have not cooperated in arresting suspects, including the President of Sudan. Because of the lack of collaboration, so far, there has been no accountability for the conflict in Sudan. Therefore, The UNSC has a responsibility to work with the government of Sudan to ensure accountability.
Sweden addressed the situation from a humanitarian lens, emphasizing the continued need to address Darfur victims’ concerns. As violence and IDPs decrease, Sweden remained concerned about attacks on civilians and the lack of rule of law institutions in Sudan.
2. Eastern European Group
Poland noted the need for increased efforts in Sudan in the face of decreasing UNAMID presence. In addition, Poland supported the ICC efforts to achieve justice for the victims and carry out its mandate in Darfur.
3. Latin American and Caribbean Group
Bolivia lamented the fact that the ICC has been investigating the situation in Darfur for more than 1 decade. Bolivia also stressed that those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity must answer to the ICC.
Bolivia urged the UNSC to focus on the protection of human rights and on the fight against impunity. In order to implement this goal, the UNSC must urge cooperation with all states under the universal jurisdiction of the ICC.
Peru similarly supported the Prosecutor and the ICC in their efforts in Sudan. However, the failure to arrest the standing suspects as recognized by the ICC reflects poorly on the UNSC.
4. Central Asian Group
Kazakhstan further urged the ICC to help raise the capacity of Sudanese judicial mechanisms to promote and protect rights.
5. Middle East
Kuwait further urged the international community to recognize the sovereignty of Sudan against the ICC decision to charge President Al-Bashir. Kuwait noted that the ICC does not have jurisdiction for sitting high officials, and stressed that the UNSC must respect international law and the UN charter in respecting Sudanese sovereignty.
6. African Group
Equatorial Guinea hailed the efforts of the UNSC to prevent impunity and promote justice, responsibility, and accountability. However, Equatorial Guinea underscored that the ICC has a lack of jurisdiction in accusing a sitting president of a state. The continued battle over this Presidential arrest has given the ICC a lack of credibility. Equatorial Guinea, mirroring the African Union, urged the ICC to suspend actions targeting President Al-Bashir and asked the UNSC to withdraw the case from the ICC.
Ethiopia attacked the ICC Prosecutor’s double standard used against the President of Sudan, an important African leader. Ethiopia called for the suspension of proceedings against Al-Bashir and a withdrawal of the referral case in Sudan as it will bring positive developments for peace and security. Ethiopia urged the UNSC to reconsider the situation in Sudan as Sudan has played a major role in fighting terrorism, combating human trafficking, and dealing with regional security issues. The additional progress in Darfur and the improvement of humanitarian access justify the withdrawal of the ICC referral case. Moving forward, the international and regional community and the Sudanese government should continue to improve peace and security.
Cote d'Ivoire noted the relative peace and security in Darfur, and acknowledged the important work of the ICC to ensuring accountability for human rights crimes. Cote d’Ivoire encouraged the ICC to continue to fight impunity, uphold rule of law, and bring about national reconciliation.
- Statements from Additional Parties
Sudan began its statement by completely rejecting the work of the ICC and denying any obligation of Sudan to the ICC. Sudan defended its reputation as an active member of the international community and African Union in upholding international law and fighting impunity.
Sudan continued to criticize the ICC for distortions, corruptions, and biasness. Sudan noted the wikileaks and blackmail incident within the ICC and questioned the credibility of the organization. Sudan additionally accused the ICC of politicizing the incident by targeting a head of state of an African state. Sudan seeked an official statement from the International Court of Justice on the issue of “immunity”.
Sudan denounced the “meddling of the ICC” that imperils peace and security in Sudan. It claimed that “not only has the ICC gone beyond its jurisdiction, but it has incited rebel movements and fresh violence in Sudan.”
Ethiopia asked to speak again to address and explained its call for withdrawal of the original referral to the ICC. Ethiopia reassured the UNSC of their focus to fight impunity, however noted that the African Union, not the ICC, is the only organization that allows organizations to interfere internationally for war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. Ethiopia maintained that the UNSC has no case in Darfur, and that the referral must be withdrawn.
3. Prosecutor of the ICC
The Prosecutor of the ICC requested to respond to the “hostile and disrespectful language aimed at the ICC and at her personally”. The Prosecutor noted that the tense UNSC meeting was the closest dialogue that the ICC has reached with Sudan. The Prosecutor reminded all parties that the ICC is an independent entity, and is only interested in pursuing accountability in a fair impartial manner.
The Prosecutor directly addressed Sudan and asserted that “the government of Sudan cannot wish away atrocities.” The ICC urged the arrest of outstanding suspects of war crimes and crimes against humanity.