2015 marked the tenth anniversary of the Security Council`s resolution 1593 (2005), referring the situation in Darfur, Sudan, to the International Criminal Court (here). With the year that could have been a jubilee for the ICC coming to a close, the Prosecutor of the ICC recently delivered her semi-annual report to the UN Security Council.
However, with the 20th report of the Prosecutor being delivered in December 2014 and marking the start into 2015, the prospect of a good year for the Darfur-situation was already dark. In said report, the Prosecutor announced a halt to further investigations into Darfur (here). She cited the missing support by the Security Council as a major drawback in the ICC’s efforts with regard to Darfur. In 2015, the Security Council was not impressed by her outcry and continued to ignore the calls for help. This is evident from the new 22nd report of the OTP to the Security Council. In detail, the Prosecutor highlighted the following points.
Omar a-Bashir’s travels
Unsurprisingly, Sudan’s head of state Omar al-Bashir continues to travel freely. 2015 was marked by a failed attempt to arrest him during an African Union summit in South Africa (here and here). Still, the second half of 2015 had al-Bashir travel to Mauretania, China, South Sudan, Algeria, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, India and the United Arab Emirates. Not one of these nine states is a state party to the ICC; thus, they are not obliged to arrest al-Bashir. Nevertheless, the referral by the Security Council asked non-member-states to cooperate with the ICC. With regard to the defiance by South Africa in the summer of 2015, this member state is currently asked to detail the domestic judicial proceedings surrounding the AU summit. Whether or not something helpful will come out of that remains to be seen.
Lack of cooperation
As usual, two key actors refuse to cooperate with the ICC, rendering its efforts useless and hampering the enforcement of international criminal justice.
First, Sudan is still not cooperating with the Court. Albeit obliged to do so by Security Council res. 1593 (2005), Sudan is not willing to fulfill its obligations under international law. This is nothing new and it does not need to be stressed further.
As an interesting side note, the Sudanese representative has cited the November 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference and its impact on the conflict in Darfur. With climate change being one cause for the deterioration of the situation in Darfur, he highlights the need for a comprehensive approach. While the representative has a point, other factors are more essential. While climate change has contributed to clashes between different groups of people in Darfur, the real driving forces behind the conflict are not natural forces, but politics and policies. This, of course, is withhold by the Sudanese representative.
Second, the Security Council is still not willing to back up its referral. In spite of numerous of its own resolutions and several and regular cries for help by the ICC, the Court’s submissions to the Council continue to be ignored. Communications received by the Council are not answered. Within the debate following the report by the Prosecutor, states were reluctant to promise more support. Even France, a long-term supporter of the ICC, prioritizes other aspects of the conflict before addressing the lack of support. It seems as if the Council’s member states have lost their faith in international criminal justice (which is due to its own failure to act).
As she promised earlier (here) the Prosecutor monitors ongoing events in Darfur. Within the last six months there have been aerial attacks in Darfur, gender-based crimes and crimes against peace-keepers. The Prosecutor specifies in her report that nobody really knows how many of these crimes are due to the conflict between the government and rebel forces or to intertribal clashes. Unfortunately, these events will not be investigated any further until more support is granted by the international community.
The Prosecutor adds that eight victims of alleged crimes have withdrawn from the al-Bashir case, citing a confidential settlement. She is eager to point out that her office is not abandoning the victims and continues to call for arrest and surrender of those allegedly responsible for the crimes.
Remarkably, the report is silent on the incident at Tabit. Whatever happened there will probably never be known (more here). Finally, the case against Abdallah Banda is not moving forward. A new starting date has not been set and Banda is still on the lose.
In the end, the 22nd report does not bring anything new. The situation is still on hold due to the Sudan and the Security Council continuing to ignore the ICC. One does not need to be a prophet to foresee that the 23rd report due in June 2016 will include the same areas of concern, the same lack of cooperation by Sudan and the same lack of support by the Security Council.