Global Policy Forum

A Mockery of Justice


The International Community Must Put Real Pressure on Sudan

By Joanna Naples-Mitchell

Harvard Crimson
October 4, 2007

Sudanese Government Minister Ahmad Mohammed Harun is not your typical minister of humanitarian affairs. Charged with 42 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC), Harun has been at large since May 2007 when the ICC accused him of orchestrating militia attacks on entire villages in Darfur. But rather than turn over the accused, the Sudanese government responded to the international arrest warrant by giving Harun the authority to investigate human rights abuses in Darfur. This week, they released the accused Janjaweed militia leader Ali Kushayb from detention, claiming they had no evidence against him. And the government's disregard for justice will continue so long as Sudan can count upon the inaction of the major powers.

In the midst of Sudan's impunity, the recent attack on African Union (A.U.) peacekeepers in Darfur by rebels in Haskanita has imperiled the peace talks scheduled for October in Libya. Although a hybrid United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) is slated to relieve the A.U. peacekeepers by the end of the year, its success is contingent upon Sudan's cooperation. Supposedly, Khartoum has committed to the hybrid force, but it has also granted free reign to likely war criminals, making future attacks a certainty.

ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has said, "Justice in Darfur must be on the agenda, at the top of the agenda. There can be no political solution, no security solution, no humanitarian solution as long as alleged war criminals remain free in the Sudan." But when Moreno-Ocampo advised that any peace talks needed to broach the subject of accountability, he was met with silence from the international community. To explain this silence, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has said that the more the international community pressures Sudan to comply with the ICC, the more likely it is that Sudan will renege on UNAMID deployment. But this is completely wrongheaded-it is precisely because Sudan's commitment is so tenuous that further international pressure is crucial.

The Sudanese government is legally obligated to arrest the accused while they remain on Sudanese soil, and the Security Council can employ coercive measures in the event of Sudan's noncompliance. But so long as Khartoum continues to ignore the ICC, the international community must pressure Sudan to execute the arrest warrants. Of all U.N. members, China has the most sway over Sudan because of its diplomatic and financial support for the regime. This Sunday, the Boston Olympic Torch Relay and Rally sponsored by Massachusetts Dream for Darfur will help keep the focus on China. As an emerging superpower and the host of the 2008 Olympic games, China has to think about its public image. But there will be no progress so long as the United States, the U.K., and France themselves fail to act.

To secure any hope of lasting peace, the major powers must use their influence to make Sudan arrest its war criminals. Because as long as the genocide's perpetrators remain at large, Sudan's regime still holds the cards.

More Information on International Justice
More Information on International Criminal Court Investigations in Darfur, Sudan
More Information on International Criminal Court Investigations
More General Articles on Special International Criminal Tribunals


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