Home | News    Tuesday 5 August 2008

Deferral of indictment for Sudan president not on UNSC August agenda

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August 3, 2008 (UNITED NATIONS) – The issue of suspending the indictment of Sudan president Omar Hassan Al-Bashir is not on the agenda of the UN Security Council (UNSC) for August, Jan Grauls the Belgian UN ambassador told reporters today.

Libya and South Africa sought to force a suspension in the UNAMID resolution adopted on July 31st but failed to get the required number of votes and instead accepted a watered down paragraph taking note of the African Union concern on the International Criminal Court (ICC) move to seek an arrest warrant for Al-Bashir.

The ICC’s prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked pre-trial judges in mid-July to issue arrest warrants for Al-Bashir.

Ocampo filed 10 charges: three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of murder. Judges are expected to take months to study the evidence before deciding whether to order Al-Bashir’s arrest.

The African Union, Arab League, Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) called for invoking Article 16 which allows the UNSC to suspend the ICC prosecutions in any case for a period of 12 months that can be renewed indefinitely.

Russia, China and African countries in the UNSC are seeking an Article 16 resolution before the judges issue a decision on the Prosecutor’s application.

However the Belgian envoy said that none of the UNSC members made a formal request for consideration of the matter.

“At this stage no delegation has requested consultation or announced its intention to take this up at a particular moment in August” said Grauls whose country holds the rotating presidency of the UNSC.

China’s UN envoy Wang Guangya last week hinted that they may very soon introduce a resolution.

Grauls said he is aware of the Chinese envoy’s statements and said that it is up to the UNSC members to decide whether “August is the right time” to debate the issue.

“At this very stage I am not aware of initiatives with regard to Article 16” he said.

It is not clear what the position of the Western countries in the UNSC would be with regard to a request to hold formal consultations on the matter.

The US deputy Representative to the UN Alejandro Wolff told reporters last week that “this is not the time” to address the issue of invoking Article 16 of the Rome Statute.

Wolff hinted that his delegation would veto any proposed resolution on suspension.

“The issue before us is to make clear to those who are guilty of criminal activity and complicit in the horrors that befallen on the people of Darfur that there can be no escape…anything that signals a way out or any easy way to circumvent that we believe need to be opposed” the US diplomat said.

He also said that the US “disagrees” with the AU request to block the ICC’s prosecutor request of an arrest warrant against Sudan president.

Today the chairman of the AU Commission Jean Ping accused the ICC of “pouring oil on the fire” by seeking the arrest of Sudan’s president for war crimes in Darfur.

Sudan has not ratified the Rome Statute, but the UNSC triggered the provisions under the Statute that enables it to refer situations in non-State parties to the world court if it deems that it is a threat to international peace and security.

(ST)

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  • 7 August 2008 14:56, by Michael Davies

    It seems that American officials are in favour of arresting the President of Sudan roughly in proportion to their distance from Khartoum. In New York, the shrill pro-ICC rhetoric from US reps at the UN sounds tough and goes down well with Darfur activists in the US. The Americans in Khartoum do seem quite so certain...

    And that’s because if you come a little closer to Sudan, you don’t here many voices baying for the humiliation of the President. In fact, there is a quite different sound. That is the sound of an extraordinary political consensus that embraces the main political parties within Sudan, including representatives of people that have suffered atrocities for decades at the hands of the NCP and its predecessors in the North-South civil war. Even those with powerful reasons to despise Bashir, do not want to risk the destabilising effect of an arrest warrant.

    The overwhelming view in Sudan is, to quote John Lennon, "give peace a chance". Whereas, the move of the prosecutor is, to quote David Bowie, "putting out the fire with gasoline". In Sudan, the message is clear - the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is a stabilising instrument to be protected at all costs, and if possible extended to other marginalised groups.

    When there is such a remarkable consensus in Sudan, how do politicians and civil servants living comfortable lives in Washington, New York, London and Paris acquire the confidence to determine that all these voices in Sudan are wrong and to be ignored?

    I hope the issue of an Article 16 deferral comes to the Security Council early in the Burkina Faso presidency which starts on 1st September. When it does, Americans and Europeans should listen carefully to the unified voices in Sudan and the large international coalition of Sudan’s friends that backs a deferral of the proceedings to protect the peace. They would be doing Sudan and its people a great service just by listening - and acting accordingly.

    View online : Read this case for Article 16 deferral of the ICC proceedings

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