January 2023 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 December 2022
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AFRICA

Sudan

Expected Council Action

In January 2023, the Security Council will receive the semi-annual briefing of ICC Prosecutor Karim Asad Ahmad Khan on the ICC’s Darfur-related activities.

Background and Key Recent Developments

Sudan is not a state party to the Rome Statute of the ICC. The Security Council referred the situation in Darfur, Sudan, to the ICC through the adoption of resolution 1593 on 31 March 2005. (Algeria, Brazil, China, and the US abstained on the resolution.) The Council invited the ICC Prosecutor to update it every six months on actions taken pursuant to resolution 1593. The investigations regarding Darfur focus on allegations of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur since 1 July 2002.

More than 17 years after the Council’s ICC referral, the first trial opened on 5 April 2022 with the case of The Prosecutor v. Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman (“Ali Kushayb”), which is ongoing. Four ICC arrest warrants remain outstanding against former President Omar Al Bashir, Ahmad Muhammad Harun, Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein, and Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain. Sudan remains under an obligation to surrender the four remaining suspects in the Darfur situation to the court, pursuant to resolution 1593 and the subsequent orders of ICC judges.

Khan last briefed the Council on 23 August 2022 via videoconference from Khartoum. He noted that it was the first time an ICC Prosecutor had briefed the Council from a situation country. “The simple truth is that the nightmare for thousands of Darfuris has not ended…in large part, because meaningful justice and accountability have not been felt”, he said. Among his suggestions was that Council members consider visiting Sudan “to learn more and hear from some of those survivors” to “reawaken” the Council’s commitment. He also said that Sudan’s cooperation with the court had “taken a step backwards” in recent months and highlighted the need for Sudan to issue multiple entry visas to assist with the opening of an office in Khartoum as soon as possible.

On 5 December 2022, a broad range of civilian political forces and the military signed the Sudan Political Framework Agreement, intended to pave the way for a two-year, civilian-led transition ahead of elections. The agreement, however, did not contain specific deadlines for the transition process and has been opposed by several groups, including reported protests in Khartoum since its signing. Its signing was welcomed by Secretary-General António Guterres and the Friends of Sudan (Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, the US, and the EU). In an 8 December 2022 press statement, Council members also welcomed the agreement.

In a briefing on 7 December 2022, Special Representative for Sudan and head of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) Volker Perthes said that the signing of the framework agreement on 5 December 2022 marked the first step in a two-phase process. He noted that it is intended “to lay the ground, after a further round of talks on substance, for a final political accord and the formation of a new civilian government”. Describing it as an important breakthrough, he added that “critical contentious issues” still needed to be addressed, including matters related to security sector reform; transitional justice; and implementation of the 2020 Juba Peace Agreement.

Human Rights-Related Developments

In a 5 December 2022 statement, High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk welcomed the signing of the framework agreement earlier that day as “an important first step towards a political agreement and the restoration of a civilian-led government”. He emphasised the importance of the international community’s support for “the next phase of the transition”.

Key Issues and Options

An underlying key issue for the Council is how to promote justice and accountability for past atrocities committed in Sudan. A related issue for the Council is how to support enhanced cooperation between the ICC prosecutor and the government of Sudan.

In addition to receiving Khan’s briefing, Council members supportive of the ICC’s work could consider holding an informal meeting with the prosecutor to facilitate a dialogue on ways in which his office could strengthen its cooperation with the Sudanese government.

Council members could also hold a joint press stakeout to encourage improved relations between the Sudanese government and the ICC.

Council and Wider Dynamics

The Council is divided on the work of the ICC. Albania, Brazil, Ecuador, France, Gabon, Ghana, Japan, Malta, Switzerland, and the UK are states parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC. China, Mozambique, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, and the US are not. These distinctions, however, do not necessarily reflect how members view the court’s work on Sudan. For example, the US has long supported the ICC’s efforts with regard to Sudan. Among the wider membership of the UN, African countries have long expressed concerns about what they view as the court’s disproportionate focus on Africa.

At the last semi-annual briefing on 23 August 2022, wide-ranging views were expressed on the ICC’s work in relation to Darfur. Many members welcomed the start of the trial against Ali Kushayb in April 2022 while calling on Sudan to cooperate more with the court, including providing access to key witnesses and allowing the court to establish a greater field presence. Russia was critical of the court’s work, and holds the view that the case against Ali Kushayb did not constitute a breakthrough.

The UK is the penholder on Sudan, and the US is the penholder on Sudan sanctions.

UN DOCUMENTS ON SUDAN

Security Council Resolution
31 March 2005S/RES/1593 This resolution referred the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court.
Secretary-General’s Report
1 December 2022S/2022/898 This was the 90-day report on UNITAMS.
Security Council Meeting Records
7 December 2022S/PV.9211 This was a briefing on the Secretary-General’s 90-day report on UNITAMS.
23 August 2022S/PV.9113 This was the semi-annual ICC briefing.
Security Council Press Statement
8 December 2022SC/15132 This was a press statement in which Council members welcomed the signing of the Sudan Political Framework Agreement on 5 December 2022.

 

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