Expected Council Action
In June, in accordance with resolution 1593, the Council is scheduled to hear the semi-annual briefing by Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on the work of the ICC in Darfur. No outcome is expected from the meeting.
Key Recent Developments
Bensouda last briefed the Council on Sudan on 11 December 2013, highlighting its “inaction and paralysis” with regard to Darfur (S/PV.7080). In delivering her 18th report to the Council on Darfur, she emphasised the deteriorating situation on the ground, noting the large-scale displacement in 2013, the continued attacks on peacekeepers, pervasive sexual and gender-based violence and inter-communal violence, while adding that justice was required for Darfur to experience lasting peace.
In recent months, President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan has visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Chad, both state parties to the Rome Statute. He attended the Common Market of East and South Africa summit in Kinshasa on 26-27 February. On 29 March, he visited eastern Chad to participate in the Um Jaras Forum for Peace, Security and Peaceful Co-Existence, which was designed to promote peace in Darfur.
The trial of Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain, a leader of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) accused of war crimes, was scheduled to begin at The Hague on 5 May. The ICC said in a 16 April press release that the trial would be delayed due to “logistic difficulties”. It is not clear when a new start date would be set.
The situation in Darfur continued to be marked by instability and violence. On 11 May, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) referred to an assessment by the East Darfur state authority that estimated that 1.5 million people were likely to experience a food shortage. Among other things, this shortage was attributed to inter-communal conflict, a poor harvest and population displacement. OCHA has also reported that 28,000 additional internally displaced people have recently arrived at the ZamZam camp in North Darfur, apparently having escaped violence in two areas in which the government-affiliated Rapid Support Forces (RSF) reportedly targeted civilians in April. On 19 May, the JEM alleged that it had ambushed a government convoy, killing over 30 Sudan Armed Forces troops and related militia.
An AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) peacekeeper was shot and killed in Kubkabiya, North Darfur on 24 May while trying to mediate between members of the Fur ethnic group and an Arab militia. Three other peacekeepers were wounded in the incident. Council members issued a press statement the same day condemning the attack (SC/11413).
On 17 May, Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, the head of the National Umma Party, was arrested for accusing the RSF of murdering and raping civilians in Darfur. The National Umma Party, one of only two major opposition parties that have expressed their intention to participate in Sudan’s national dialogue process, suspended its involvement in that process following the arrest.
On 20 May, Ambassador María Cristina Perceval (Argentina), chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, provided the quarterly briefing to the Council on the Committee’s work in consultations. Perceval reported that concerns had been expressed by a number of Committee members about ongoing violations of the arms embargo. She added that several Committee members would welcome information from the Panel of Experts (PoE) on the impact of the conflict in South Sudan on Darfur.
An ongoing key issue is whether the ability of Bashir to travel outside Sudan with impunity erodes the effectiveness of the ICC and undermines the credibility of the Council’s own binding resolutions.
Another key issue is whether ICC indictments of Bashir and other key government officials in Sudan hinder the prospects for constructive diplomacy.
A related issue is whether a compromise solution can be found that balances peace and justice.
One option is for the Council to prepare a letter to Sudan noting that the Council has received notices from the ICC that Bashir has travelled abroad with impunity to countries that are State Parties and that the Council is considering appropriate measures in response. Although unlikely, the Council could consider placing one or more of the ICC indictees on the 1591 sanctions list, as none have been listed to date.
Another option is to adopt a statement that deplores the upsurge in violence in Darfur in recent months and emphasises that protection of civilians is a strategic priority of UNAMID, as outlined in resolution 2148 of 3 April.
The Council might also consider authorising a Commission of Inquiry or requesting the High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate the allegations of atrocities committed by the RSF in Darfur.
Council and Wider Dynamics
Although the Council is comprised of 11 ICC States Parties and four non-Parties at present, Council members do not necessarily split along that line vis-à-vis the work of the ICC in Darfur or beyond. The US, for example, has been supportive of the ICC in Darfur, although it abstained on resolution 1593. In addition, Chad and Nigeria have hosted Bashir, even though the Rome Statute requires them as State Parties to apprehend ICC indictees on their territory.
Several African states have viewed the ICC as a political instrument exclusively focused on Africa, and questioned whether its pursuit of justice complements the pursuit of peace. Although the attempt to refer the situation in Syria to the ICC on 22 May failed, despite the support of 13 Council members, including the African members, the effort may contribute to attenuating the anti-Africa allegations levelled against the ICC.
With respect to Darfur, the AU has in the past advocated for a deferral of the proceedings against Bashir.
The UK is penholder in the Council on Darfur.
UN Documents on Darfur
|Security Council Resolutions|
|3 April 2014 S/RES/2148||This endorsed the revised priorities of UNAMID.|
|13 February 2014 S/RES/2138||This resolution renewed the mandate of the Panel of Experts for 13 months.|
|30 July 2013 S/RES/2113||This resolution extended the mandate of UNAMID for an additional year.|
|15 April 2014 S/2014/279||This was a quarterly report on UNAMID.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|24 April 2014 S/PV.7159||This was a quarterly briefing on UNAMID.|
|11 December 2013 S/PV.7080||This was a briefing to the Council by the ICC Prosecutor.|
|Security Council Press Statement|
|24 May 2014 SC/11413||This was a press statement condemning the attack where a AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) peacekeeper was shot and killed in North Darfur on 24 May 2014.|