Sudan and South Sudan - Security Council, 9375th Meeting

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13-Jul-2023 02:02:37
History Is at Risk of Repeating, International Criminal Court Prosecutor Tells Security Council, Urging Accountability for New Crimes in Darfur.

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Calling on the Security Council to deliver justice to the people of war-torn Sudan or risk irrelevance, the International Criminal Court’s top prosecutor today detailed plans to investigate alleged violations of international law emanating from Sudan’s latest conflict, as well as the serious crimes committed in Darfur two decades ago.

Karim Khan, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, told Council members that the disregard of promises made to the Sudanese people — along with the absence of any meaningful justice in Sudan for the serious crimes committed in Darfur 20 years ago — have helped create this latest cycle of violence and suffering. “We now are in peril of allowing history to repeat itself, yet again, before our eyes,” he observed, adding: “We are not on the precipice of a human rights catastrophe, we are in the midst of one.”

Working within the mandate given to the Prosecutor’s Office by resolution 1593 (2005), he said the Court is closely tracking reports of extrajudicial killings, the burning of homes and markets, and looting in West Darfur, as well as the killing and displacement of civilians in North Darfur. Further, the Office will soon deploy an investigative team to countries neighbouring Sudan to collect evidence from those who have fled the violence, and has launched a public campaign to solicit information about crimes allegedly committed in Darfur.

Stating that the present outcome has been staring at the international community and the people of Darfur for a long time, he said that, now, “the question is what are we going to do about it”. He pointed to the Court’s recent trial of Ali Abd-al-Rahman, senior Janjaweed leader, urging observers to hold onto hope that justice and accountability in Darfur is possible. He warned, however: “If we fail to deliver here, this calls into question the relevance of the Council.”

In the ensuing debate, many delegates voiced their dismay that the current conflict, which began in Khartoum on 15 April between the Rapid Support Forces and the Sudanese armed forces, has led to civilian casualties and criminal acts, displaced vast amounts of people and hampered the Prosecutor Office’s ability to investigate alleged crimes.

However, the representative of the Russian Federation questioned how that trial can be considered effective when it was opened by the Court 17 years ago. She called the Court an obedient tool that follows the West’s directions as it examines the Sudan file. The Court, unable and not particularly willing to fulfil its mandate under resolution 1593 (2005), chooses to explain its ineffectiveness by blaming national authorities for its failures. “The main question to think about is who needs the ICC [International Criminal Court] and why,” she emphasized.

The representative of Sudan, meanwhile, noted that the Juba Peace Agreement has not been implemented because funding pledges have not been honoured. While the Prosecutor points to Khartoum’s lack of cooperation, the Government constantly cooperated with the Court — although Sudan has yet to ratify the Rome Statute — before the recent clashes. Its legislative reform measures are based on that cooperation, and special tribunals were created to investigate crimes in Darfur. Regarding the Prosecutor’s requests, he stressed that there must be early notification and sufficient time allowed to implement them.

Mr. Khan, responding to comments, spotlighted the basic principle of international law that a national authority cannot claim a domestic impediment to fulfil an international law obligation. Resolution 1593 (2005) clearly states that the Government of Sudan and all parties shall cooperate fully with the Court. “Unfortunately, this international obligation has been much more honoured in the breach, rather than in the observance,” he said.
The meeting began at 3:03 p.m. and ended at 5:06 p.m.
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