Expected Council Action
In June, the Security Council will receive the semi-annual briefing, most likely in an open videoconference (VTC), of the ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, related to the Court’s work on Darfur. The chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Sven Jürgenson (Estonia), is expected to provide the quarterly briefing on the committee’s work via VTC.
The mandate of the UN/AU Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) expires on 31 October 2020.
Key Recent Developments
The situation in Darfur has remained largely unchanged. Intercommunal clashes and civil unrest continue, while the harvest season has seen an increase in attacks against farmers by pastoralists. There are still some two million internally displaced persons in Darfur and serious human rights violations continue to be reported. In response to the spread of COVID-19, the Sudanese authorities closed all airports, seaports and land crossings in March and declared a public health emergency. Regarding the political situation, it was announced on 17 May that the Sudanese transitional government and the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF), a coalition of rebel groups in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile, will initial a peace agreement on 20 June. Talks between the parties are expected to take place from 18 May to 19 June.
On 30 March, the Council adopted resolution 2517, which called for UNAMID’s troop and police ceilings and its team sites to be maintained until 31 May. It also expressed the Council’s intention to decide by 31 May “courses of action regarding the responsible drawdown and exit of UNAMID” and “to adopt a new resolution at the same time, establishing a follow-on presence to UNAMID”. (See our What’s In Blue story of 27 March.) At the time of writing, the Council was expected to adopt such a resolution in early June.
Sudan is not a state party to the Rome Statute of the ICC. The Security Council referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC in resolution 1593, adopted on 31 March 2005, with abstentions from Algeria, Brazil, China, and the US. The ICC investigations regarding Darfur focus on allegations of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur, Sudan, since 1 July 2002. All five ICC arrest warrants in the Darfur situation remain in force. Former President Omar al-Bashir remains in detention in Khartoum, where he was convicted of money-laundering and corruption in December 2019 and sentenced to two years in prison. On 11 February, the Sudanese transitional government announced that al-Bashir would appear before the ICC. To date, however, details of how and when he might be handed over are unclear. Two other suspects in the Darfur situation, Abdel Raheem Hussein and Ahmad Harun, are also reportedly being detained in Khartoum. The whereabouts of the remaining two Darfur suspects, Ali Kushayb and Abdallah Banda, are unknown.
In her last semi-annual briefing on 18 December 2019, Bensouda noted the principle of complementarity in the Rome Statute, namely that the primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute crimes rests with national criminal jurisdictions. However, she said that “[u]nless and until the Sudan can demonstrate to the ICC judges that it is willing and able to genuinely investigate and prosecute the Darfur suspects for the crimes alleged in their respective arrest warrants, those cases will remain admissible before the ICC”. She also noted that Sudan’s “publicly stated commitments to international law and international human rights and justice have created a renewed expectation for accountability in the Darfur situation” and reiterated her Office’s “willingness to engage in dialogue and cooperation with the Sudan so that justice can finally be served for the victims of atrocity crimes in Darfur, either in a Sudanese court or before the ICC”.
On 24 April, the Council was briefed during an open VTC on the special report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and the Secretary-General on UNAMID, requested in resolution 2495. Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix and Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo briefed.
Key Issues and Options
The Council will need to continue to closely assess several key issues—including the overall situation in Darfur and the impact of the broader political situation—in relation to the drawdown of UNAMID and the deployment of a follow-on presence. The impact that COVID-19 is having, and may continue to have, on Sudan and for the future mission will also be important issues for the Council to consider.
Another key issue is for the Council to continue to follow the steps taken in relation to the five ICC arrest warrants, which remain in force. An option is to seek more clarity on the statement made in February by the Sudanese transitional government that al-Bashir would appear before the ICC. Another option is to further encourage the government to engage in dialogue and cooperation with the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC.
The scope and pace of UNAMID’s drawdown and exit have been contentious among Council members for several years. Despite consensus on the need for a follow-on mission to include political and peacebuilding support covering all of Sudan, as requested by the Sudanese authorities, Council members hold divergent positions about the situation in Darfur and the impact of UNAMID’s drawdown and exit on issues such as the protection of civilians.
At the last semi-annual briefing by Bensouda on 18 December 2019, several Council members expressed support for the work of the ICC and encouraged the Sudanese authorities to engage and cooperate with the Court. These included Belgium, the Dominican Republic, France, Germany and the UK.
The UK and Germany are co-penholders on Sudan. Ambassador Sven Jürgenson (Estonia) chairs the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee.
UN DOCUMENTS ON SUDAN (DARFUR)
|Security Council Resolutions|
|30 March 2020S/RES/2517||This resolution was on the drawdown and exit of UNAMID and established a follow-on presence, in accordance with resolution 2495.|
|31 October 2019S/RES/2495||This resolution renewed UNAMID’s mandate until 31 October 2020.|
|12 March 2020S/2020/202||This was a special report of the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the AU Commission, which was requested in resolution 2495.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|18 December 2019S/PV.8691||The Council received the semi-annual briefing of the ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda related to the court’s work on Darfur.|