Expected Council Action
In June, the Council is expected to receive the semi-annual briefing by the ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, on the work of the ICC on Sudan. At press time, no Council outcome was anticipated on Darfur.
Key Recent Developments
Bensouda last briefed the Council on Darfur on 13 December 2012. She argued that Sudan’s “actions on the ground…show an ongoing commitment to crimes against civilians as a solution to the government’s problems in Darfur”. She said that while the ICC had carried out its Darfur mandate, the Council had exhibited “fragmentation and indecision”, stating that the victims of crimes in Darfur were still waiting for “decisive, concrete and tangible actions” by the Council. Bensouda also indicated that given continuing allegations of crimes committed in the region—including attacks on AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) peacekeepers and civilians and efforts to prevent the delivery of humanitarian assistance—she would consider opening new investigations and producing additional arrest warrant applications.
An ICC Pre-Trial Chamber issued a decision on 26 March finding that Chad, a state party to the Rome Statute, has been in non-compliance with ICC requests for the arrest and surrender of President Omar Al-Bashir, who had most recently been in Chad on 15-16 February. The Secretary-General forwarded this decision in which the ICC argues that “Chad continues to welcome the visits of Omar Al-Bashir on its territory without any attempt to arrest him, despite several warnings on the part of the Court” to the Council on 15 April (S/2013/229).
The security and humanitarian situation in Darfur remains volatile. In late April and early May, a land dispute between the Gimir and Beni Halba communities in South Darfur, led to numerous casualties. An unnamed Beni Halba leader claimed that 37 members of his community and more than 100 Gimir had died in the fighting. The Gimir and Beni Halba clashed again on 21 May, leaving 23 killed, 51 wounded and some 20,000 displaced. Fighting between the Al Taaysha and Salamat communities also occurred in South Darfur on 6 May, reportedly leaving 36 people dead and dozens wounded.
The humanitarian repercussions from the clashes between Sudanese Armed Forces and the Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minawi (SLA-MM) in and around the towns of Labado and Muhajeriya in eastern Darfur in April have been dire. In its Humanitarian Bulletin on Sudan (6-12 May), the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs referred to estimates by humanitarian agencies that 60,000 people had been displaced by these clashes.
On 12 May, Mohamed Bashar, the leader of the splinter group Justice and Equality Movement-Bashar faction (JEM-Bashar), and his deputy Suleiman Arko Dahiya, were killed by JEM forces along the Chad-Darfur border. (JEM-Bashar formally made peace with the government of Sudan by signing the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur on 6 April.)
There have been different accounts of the incident. In separate press releases on 13 May, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the chairperson of the AU Commission, condemned the incident as “a cowardly act” and called it an “ambush”, and Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the Joint Special Representative of UNAMID, called it a “criminal attack”. Gibril Ibrahim, the leader of the JEM, countered these claims, alleging that Bashar died in the midst of an armed confrontation between JEM and the JEM-Bashar faction and denying that Bashar had been the target of an assassination. Ibrahim also claimed that Bashar had been killed on Sudanese territory, refuting reports that the incident occurred on the Chadian side of the border.
Ambassador María Cristina Perceval (Argentina), chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, briefed Council members in consultations on the Committee’s work on 16 May. She noted that four of the five members of the Panel of Experts (PoE) were in Darfur. She added that Sudan has continued to deny access to the finance expert, Ghassan Schbley. (Sudan has objected to Schbley, expressing concerns about his activities when he was a member of the PoE for the 751/1907 Somalia/Eritrea Sanctions Committee.) Perceval also told Council members that the Committee members had agreed to visit Darfur in October.
Valerie Amos, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, visited Sudan from 20-23 May. During the trip, she held what she called “constructive and informative meetings” with President Bashir and other high-level government officials. Regarding the situation in Darfur, she noted that the “UN estimates that 300,000 people have fled fighting in all of Darfur in the first five months of this year, which is more than the total number of people displaced in the last two years put together.” She added that there is a “need to find more sustainable ways of supporting displaced people” in camps in Darfur.
An ongoing key issue is how the Council’s unwillingness to act on requests by the ICC to take measures against state parties to the Rome Statute that do not fulfil their responsibilities erodes the effectiveness of the Court and undermines the credibility of the Council’s own binding resolutions.
Another key issue is whether the ICC indictments of key government officials hinder the prospects for constructive diplomacy and whether ending impunity should take precedence. A related issue is whether a compromise solution can (or should) be found that balances penalties and inducements in a way that does not make the so-called “peace versus justice” debate a zero-sum proposition for either side.
Another issue is whether Amos’s meeting with Bashir will result in improved humanitarian access in Darfur, as well as South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
One option is for the Council to listen to Bensouda’s briefing but to currently take no action.
The Council could also hold an informal interactive dialogue on the role of the ICC in Sudan that includes regional organisations such as the AU and the Arab League, as well as members of the AU Peace and Security Council and other interested stakeholders.
Another option would be for the Council to remind all UN member states that resolution 1593, which referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC, is binding and to indicate its intention to follow up on instances of non-compliance. For example, in light of the ICC’s 26 March decision on Chad, the Council could adopt a presidential or a press statement condemning Chad’s non-compliance with the requests for Bashir’s arrest and surrender.
An alternative approach would be for the Council to authorise a deferral of investigations of Bashir for one year, in accordance with Article 16 of the Rome Statute, in an effort to facilitate enhanced international diplomatic engagement with Sudan.
The Council might also request a briefing from Amos on her recent visit to Darfur and on her meeting with Bashir.
The Council is divided on the issue of the ICC. Seven members—Argentina, Australia, France, Guatemala, the Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, and the UK—are parties to the Rome Statute, while eight members—Azerbaijan, China, Morocco, Pakistan, Russia, Rwanda, Togo and the US—are not. Some members of the Council are supportive of the ICC’s work in Darfur, while others appear to be concerned that the pursuit of Bashir and others is motivated largely by political interests.
Some members remain concerned that the finance expert of the PoE continues to be denied entry into Sudan and that Sudan has issued only single-entry visas to the remaining four experts, even though resolution 2091 calls on Sudan to issue “timely multi-entry visas to all members of the Panel…for the duration of its mandate.”
Several members are also alarmed by the deteriorating security situation in Darfur. During the 16 May briefing to the Council on the work of the Sudan Sanctions Committee, several Council members spoke and condemned the killing of the leader of JEM-Bashar. In addition, two members advocated imposing sanctions on the Sudan Revolutionary Front, an umbrella group including several rebel movements, especially in light of the its attack in late April on Um Rawaba, North Kordofan.
The UK is the penholder on Darfur.
UN Documents on Sudan/Darfur
|Security Council Resolution|
|31 March 2005 S/RES/1593||This resolution referred the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court.|
|10 April 2013 S/2013/225||This was a quarterly report of the Secretary-General on UNAMID.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|13 December 2012 S/PV.6887||This was a briefing on the ICC’s work in Sudan.|
|Security Council Letter|
|15 April 2013 S/2013/229||This was a letter from the Secretary-General to the Council forwarding the decision by the ICC that Chad was in non-compliance with the ICC by continuing to welcome Bashir into its territory despite warnings by the Court.|