The civilian population of Darfur remains the target of both the Government and armed militias (12/12/2014)
Sudan/ICC - Statement by Mr. Tanguy Stehelin, Legal Councellor of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 12 December 2014
I thank the Prosecutor for her twentieth report and for her briefing.
Prosecutor Bensouda reminds us yet again that, nearly 10 years after the Security Council’s adoption of resolution 1593 (2005), the civilian population of Darfur remains the target of both the Government and armed militias, and that the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) is not fully able to fulfil its mandate to protect civilians.
We share the concerns reiterated in the Prosecutor’s report, as reflected in resolution 2173 (2014), which include continuing aerial bombardments by the Sudanese Air Force, with direct and indirect civilian victims ; attacks on civilians by the Sudanese security forces, whose ranks have expanded and may include minors ; continuing clashes among tribes due to poor access to natural resources, both in Darfur and because of interference from the armed janjaweed militias ; continuing rapes and sexual violence by Government armed forces ; threats against members of the political opposition, humanitarian personnel and personnel of non-governmental organizations ; numerous obstacles to the delivery of aid to the civilian population by organizations in charge of humanitarian assistance and by UNAMID in the exercise of its mandate ; and the continued forced displacement of civilians because of ongoing violence and the escalation of armed conflict.
As Ms. Bensouda also recalls, the arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court have not always been executed. Five individuals accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and, in one case, genocide, continue to evade the Court’s jurisdiction. Most of them continue to hold high office in the State bureaucracy of the Sudan. A situation of such impunity can only encourage further abuses.
The responses to that situation have long been well known to the Council. Putting an end to the multiple forms of violence and crime presupposes, first of all, the successful conclusion and implementation of a political settlement that includes both the Government and rebel groups. In that regard, the opening of negotiations in Addis Ababa in November between the Sudanese Government and the Darfur rebels was encouraging. However, those talks have not yet led to a single specific advance despite the efforts of a high-level group from the African Union, which we support. We hope that will lead to a ceasefire that will lead to a political solution as expected by the Peace and Security Council of the African Union.
The second requirement is enabling the effective protection of civilians and UNAMID’s ability to execute its mandate. The continuing violence and insecurity preclude any prospect of stabilization or long-term reconstruction. The human consequences of the crisis remain exceedingly serious, with more than 430,000 people fleeing their homes since January because of the fighting in Darfur, in addition to more than 2 million long-term internally displaced. Violence continues against civilians, especially women, as well as looting, and UNAMID peacekeepers also continue to be attacked.
The third requirement is unhindered humanitarian access to civilian populations and the displaced. In that regard, we regret that UNAMID is still subject to access restrictions in its investigation into the allegations of mass rape in Thabit in late October. It is essential that it be guaranteed free and unrestricted access to the area, as well as to the entire territory of Darfur.
The fourth is going after the perpetrators and combating impunity effectively. In that regard, the new semi-annual briefing emphasizes that the Office of the Prosecutor has not ruled out any measures for fighting impunity in the Sudan, whether through investigations, arrest warrants or scheduling the first suit to be brought against a rebel leader, with a trial originally set for November this year for attacks on peacekeepers in Haskanita. As the Council knows, the trial could not take place, owing to the absence of the accused, against whom an arrest warrant had duly been issued. As the Prosecutor noted, the Sudan, required to cooperate with the Court and combat impunity, has taken no action to prosecute those responsible for crimes in Darfur. A new ruling is expected from the Court on the Sudan’s non-cooperation, despite the fact that the provisions of resolution 1593 (2005) require such cooperation.
The final requirement is limiting contacts with persons subject to arrest warrants of the Court to those deemed essential, in accordance with the policy of the Secretary-General. France calls on the entire United Nations to work to implement these guidelines. In this context, the Council should continue to mobilize on two fronts. First and foremost, it should induce the parties to cease all violence against civilians. That requires agreement on the part of all Council members on the deterioration in civilians’ situation that the Prosecutor has portrayed yet again in her report. It also requires enabling UNAMID to fully carry out its mandate, with its total and unfettered freedom of movement guaranteed. It must also be able to carry it out more effectively. In order for that to happen, it must continue to implement the strategic review that the Council endorsed in April, which made protection a main focus of UNAMID’s action, along with support to a political solution and local mediation. Once the Secretariat’s recommendations on the next phases in UNAMID’s development are again submitted in February, the Council should also consider the adjustments that will be required if UNAMID is to make a genuine contribution to improving the situation of civilians on the ground.
Secondly, our cooperation with the International Criminal Court has to made effective and we must ensure that arrest warrants are executed, an essential condition if the Court is to be able to carry out its mandate. It is up to the Council to respond when the Court notifies it of cases of non-cooperation, and to the Assembly of States Parties and international organizations to remain ready to react to such cases.