The Darfur Consortium

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Darfur in the News

U.S. and European media

September 22, 2023

Agence France-Presse: Thousands feared displaced by Darfur battles: UN. Thousands of vulnerable civilians are feared to have been displaced by a recent upsurge of fighting in north Darfur, the United Nations head of humanitarian affairs for Sudan warned on Friday. "The UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Ms Ameerah Haq, is deeply concerned at the continued fighting between the Government of Sudan and the armed rebel movements in North Darfur," a UN statement said. "Thousands are reported to be newly displaced by the fighting but figures are unconfirmed," said the statement, released a day after Haq visited El-Fasher, the state capital of North Darfur.

Reuters: France says not linking Darfur with ICC indictment. France said on Friday that Sudan should end the Darfur crisis regardless of international moves to indict Sudan's president for war crimes. France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert told reporters this week that Paris might be open to the idea of freezing any eventual action by the International Criminal Court provided Sudan met specific conditions regarding Darfur. But the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday that it was not linking the two issues. "France wants the ICC procedures to be respected," it said. "France is not leading any negotiations."

Reuters: Sudanese accused of U.S. murder planned second attack. Four Sudanese men accused of killing a U.S. aid worker and his driver in a New Year's Eve attack were plotting to murder another foreigner when they were arrested, a court in Khartoum heard on Sunday. The four are charged with murdering John Granville, a 33-year-old officer with the U.S. Agency for International Development, and his driver Abdelrahman Abbas Rahama, 39, in Khartoum in the early hours of Jan. 1. Granville was the first U.S. government official to be killed in Khartoum in more than three decades in a crime that sent shockwaves through the capital's expatriate community.

Investment News: Congressional caucus asks funds to divest in Sudan. The Congressional Human Rights Caucus is pressuring mutual fund companies voluntarily to divest their holdings in companies that do business in Sudan. Under U.S. law, it is legal for asset management firms to invest in foreign companies that are doing business in the Darfur region, or have links to the Sudan government, despite the genocide that many world leaders contend is occurring there. Nonetheless, some on Capitol Hill are looking for a way to prevent investments from being made in the region.

The following op-ed by Richard Holbrooke appeared in today's Financial Times. 

The arrest of Sudan's Bashir should proceed

The request from the International Criminal Court prosecutor for an arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir, Sudan's president, caused much hand-wringing by diplomats and others who say the search for justice will derail peace negotiations or endanger humanitarian relief workers. Fearing that the crisis in Darfur will worsen if the prosecutor is allowed to proceed, they have launched an ill-considered campaign at the United Nations Security Council to delay the court's proceedings, perhaps for a year. The very nations that created the ICC appear to be afraid to let it do its work. A vote for deferral might come as early as next month.

For me, this is familiar terrain. When Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb leaders, were indicted by the Yugoslav tribunal in July 1995 for orchestrating atrocities in Bosnia, the media and many diplomats lamented that we would be unable to negotiate peace for Bosnia. Less than five months later, an agreement was reached in Dayton to end the war.

What had seemed an insurmountable obstacle turned out to be an unexpected opportunity. Before the indictments, we had already decided to marginalise Gen Mladic and Mr Karadzic and force Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian president, to take full responsibility for the war. Our negotiating team met them only once - in a hunting villa just outside Belgrade in September 1995 - but only with a prior understanding that Mr Milosevic would be responsible for their conduct, and only to lift the three-year siege of Sarajevo, which we accomplished that night. Later, when Mr Milosevic insisted that to achieve peace the two men had to participate in negotiations, I offered to arrest them personally if they set foot in the US.

Their removal from negotiations helped greatly in our success even though Mr Karadzic, forced by Mr Milosevic to sign the Dayton agreement, must have known it would end his political career. After he stepped down he invented a fable that I - and later Madeleine Albright - made deals with him that Nato would not pursue him. This wholly fabricated story, coming from a war criminal who also said the Muslims bombed their own marketplace in Sarajevo to lure Nato into war, is grotesque.

The key point is that the pariah status created by the indictment contributed to resolving the conflict and creating a more stable situation in Bosnia. The tragedy was not that these evil men were indicted; it was that it took almost 13 years to arrest Mr Karadzic and that Gen Mladic is still at large.

The US and the European Union confront a similar issue with Darfur. In 2005, the Security Council determined that offering impunity was a threat to peace. It referred the situation to the ICC prosecutor, who announced that the evidence pointed to the top of Sudan's government. Suddenly, some Council members backed away from their earlier stance. In a routine resolution to extend the mandate of the Darfur peacekeeping mission, they added a statement of "concern" about the prosecutor's request and promised to raise the issue again.

The US abstained, neither wishing to veto the mission nor wanting to support anything leading to a delay in the prosecution of Mr Bashir. China, Russia and others argued that an arrest warrant against Mr Bashir would frustrate peace prospects and jeopardise humanitarian workers. In October, these countries plan to ask the Security Council to defer the ICC's investigations for a renewable 12-month period.

Those advocating this step argue that it would give negotiators leverage to produce results in Darfur. Yet they have never produced evidence for this, nor defined what the benchmark for success would be at the end of the 12 months. Mr Bashir is simply playing for time, offering nothing. Mr Milosevic did the same. Give Mr Bashir a year and he will take it - and ask for more.

The US and the EU must resist efforts to suspend ICC prosecutions. Peace negotiations have been stalled for nearly a year for reasons unrelated to a possible warrant against Mr Bashir. Suspension may seem a safer course to follow in the short run, but it will embolden him and other future suspected war criminals.

Bringing perpetrators of international crimes to justice is undeniably difficult when trying simultaneously to end a conflict, but it is the right choice. War criminals should know that they can run but - as the evil Mr Karadzic ultimately learnt - sooner or later they will be brought to justice.

The writer is former special envoy for the Balkans, former US ambassador at the United Nations and is a supporter of Barack Obama.

The Darfur Daily News is a service of the Save Darfur Coalition. To subscribe to the Daily News, please email [email protected]. For media inquiries, please contact Ashley Roberts at (202) 478-6181, or [email protected].


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