Sudan: Justice, Peace and the ICC
17 Jul 2009
This media release is also available in Arabic.
Sudan must dismantle its system of impunity for atrocity crimes or there will be no peace in Darfur, and the North-South civil war could again erupt.
Sudan: Justice, Peace and the ICC,* the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines the root cause of the country’s many crises, namely the reluctance of the long-ruling National Congress Party (NCP) to enact policies that would bring justice to the victims of its many conflicts. To end Sudan’s centralised, exploitive and unaccountable governance, the NCP must accept judicial reforms and transitional justice mechanisms as key elements of a Darfur settlement and at the same time fulfil its side of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which halted decades of civil war.
International partners of the Sudan peace process should increase pressure on the NCP in order to create a chance for meaningful policy changes. The best way to do so is to reconfirm their support for execution of the International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrants, including the warrant issued against President Bashir in March, and to deliver a firm message in Khartoum that they will only consider a UN Security Council resolution suspending execution if Khartoum first makes those reforms.
“The danger now is that the international community might accept an ICC deferral too cheaply”, says Fouad Hikmat, Crisis Group’s Sudan and African Union Adviser. “If it demands only national elections as envisioned in the CPA while ignoring the Darfur issue, including its justice aspects, Sudan will not find peace.”
The NCP has defied the ICC arrest warrant against President Bashir for atrocity crimes in Darfur, and the African Union and Arab League have requested the Security Council to suspend the ICC proceedings, via the procedure for a one-year renewable period provided in Article 16 of the Rome Statute that established the ICC. Since the first case announced by the ICC on Sudan in 2006, there has been no genuine attempt to deal with systemic crimes and lack of accountability, making it difficult to achieve peace in Darfur. Humanitarian aid there is still restricted, putting several million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and others at risk.
Sudan will face increased turmoil if the NCP is allowed to maintain the status quo and close the door to political accommodation of Darfur through a fraudulent electoral process in 2010 that disenfranchises many Darfuris. That result would undermine conditions for the promised 2011 referendum in South Sudan on independence, which in turn could lead to the return of full-scale civil war.
While critical of some of the tactics of the ICC prosecutor, the report concludes that international pressure on the NCP regarding the Bashir arrest warrant can be effective. That warrant has created a critical dilemma for his party, which must now decide whether to genuinely work to resolve the crisis in Darfur and elsewhere in the country or accept pariah status in much of the world.
“Sudan needs institutional reforms and new policies directed at instituting a culture of accountability”, says Daniela Kroslak, Crisis Group’s Deputy Africa Program Director. “Short-term deals and quick fixes that ignore the core issue of impunity for atrocity crimes cannot advance a sustainable political settlement to the country’s conflicts”.