International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Tag Archives: Sudan

Discontent on the African Continent

Mills’ article, “Bashir is Dividing US” addresses the fraught and complex relationship between African states and the International Criminal Court.

Here a few questions to help guide you through the article. You can provide responses to any of the questions in the comments – an informal study guide for everyone. (A response will count as  post for the week)

icc-africa-leaders1) Despite their initial support for the ICC, what arguments do African states present against the ICC?

2) How has the African Union presented challenges and obstacles to the ICC? How do they want it reformed?

3) Mills contends that the unity of opposition to the ICC in Africa is a “façade”? What does he mean by this? And what types of tensions are reflected in the “arguments” among African states?

4) Are there other examples of African states conflicting with the ICC recently?

Darfur: The First Genocide Of The 21’st Century

Claiming over 300,000 lives and displacing over 3 million people, the genocide in Darfur is one of the worst humanitarian disasters the world has ever faced. The most devastating reality is that the killing continues till this day.

Omar AL Bashir, the president of Sudan rose to power during a military coup in 1989. He inherited the long running war with the rebels of South Sudan. This conflict stemmed from “northern economic, political, and social domination of largely non-Muslim, non-Arab, southern Sudanese.” The need for resources played a big role in this conflict, which led to two civil wars one in 1972 and the second in 1983. Even after the civil wars the government continued to neglect the people and have left them poor and without voice. In 2003, a group of non-Arab rebel group decided that they have had enough and launched an uprising against the Khartoum government. The response from the government was the beginning of the genocide campaign. The government decided to enlist the help of an Arab militia in Darfur called the Janjaweed to carry out this task. This dispute is not religious but an ethnic one.

Rape, murder, torture, etc.. The international community promised “never again” to allow a destruction of a particular ethnic, racial, or religious group. The United States carried its promise in 2004, when congress passed a resolution labeling Darfur genocide. This however did not foster a strong reaction from the international community, instead the community spent most of the time arguing about what constitutes as genocide. The UN only went as far as threatening to sanction Sudan’s growing oil industry. This did not stop the killing. The African Union also sent 7,700 troops by April 2005, but the uncooperative government proved to be a stronger force.

The International Criminal failed to bring justice to this crime when an arrest warrant for Al Bashir came in 2009, the judge claimed that there was not enough sufficient evidence to support charges of genocide. In 2010 though, a warrant for Al Bashir came for three counts of genocide, the GoS , the Arab League and the African Union denounced the warrants. thankfully though the UN has not placed any action against these warrants so they are still in place. Yet Many countries have failed to their obligation to act on these warrants. Al Bashir is still in power and cannot leave his country. What I question is how ineffective the international community has been. I believe it is because many of these governments commit some of the same crimes, and other countries do not actually care. How can one man escape justice leaves me flabbergasted. This massacre just proves how ineffective the international community is when it comes to large scale killings (cough Syria).


Failure to Protect


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Allegations of UN Peacekeeping Forces Killing Seven Civilians in Darfur

Tensions continue to rise in Sudan as a force of peacekeepers in Darfur is accused of killing seven civilians in three separate incidents just last week. This recent peacekeeping development only threatens the strained relationship between the government and international forces. In response to these allegations, the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) has claimed that the attacks were self-defense. The two attacks on April 23 and 24 left four Sudanese dead and six peacekeepers wounded. The UNAMID has been in Darfur since 2007. Their mandate is to stem the violence against civilians, and recently their mission has stirred up controversy with attempts to investigate an alleged mass rape by Sudanese soldiers in the town of Tabit. UNAMID has said that 61 peacekeepers have been killed in Darfur since deployment in 2007.


Previous blog posts have commented on the controversy that surrounds peacekeeping. The most famous example is the Dutch peacekeeping mission in Srebrenica that has been called partially responsible for the deaths that occurred during the 1995 massacre. Problems and controversies with peacekeeping are serious threats to justice—if the people trying to find and restore justice are committing crimes and not being held accountable, then is progress really happening? A lack of accountability for crimes committed by peacekeepers is a serious problem that threatens peace in the threatened area and brings up questions of impunity. In the case of Sudan, as Bashir continues to hold onto power, these strained relationships are only going to act as a spark plug to the conflict.

Omar al-Bashir wins Sudan Elections

In recent Presidential elections, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir was re-elected with 94% of votes. According to BBC news sources, “the country’s main opposition parties boycotted the election, saying they would not be free and fair” thereby leaving us to question the legitimacy of the election. This situation has prompted a close consideration of whether or not justice has a deterrent impact on international actors. Bashir’s re-election demonstrates that justice does not always serve as a deterrent factor. While some might argue that justice does not work as a deterrent factor because of the perpetrator’s inability to perform a cost benefit analysis of the situation, Bashir demonstrates otherwise. Bashir’s ICC arrest warrant proves that his desires and demand for presidency make him a rational actor. “Despite his age, stepping down is not an option for Bashir. It would mean surrendering power and the possibility of prosecution by The Hague.” Bashir’s ICC arrest warrant failed to deter Bashir’s actions, but also motivated him to run for re-election. Not only did justice fail to provide deterrence for the Sudanese perpetrator, Bashir’s re-election poses a threat to peace and security as his presidency could destabilize the current political situation. “These elections may decide something, but do not resolve anything. Indeed, they have deepened the current political crises by intensifying mistrust: mistrust among political parties, mistrust among the country’s centre and its peripheries, and mistrust between political parties and their supposed constituencies.” How should the international community respond to Bashir’s re-election? Is there such a thing as “un-doing” justice and could it help in stabilizing Sudan’s political situation? If Bashir is a rational actor, what can be done to remedy the situation?

Elections set to begin in Sudan tomorrow, expectations for a victory by incumbent al-Bashir

Incumbent al-Bashir is expected to continue his time as President of Sudan after elections held over the course of the next three days will come to a conclusion. Although al-Bashir has held office for over 25 years, the political climate seems to be relatively non-competitive in the race for president. Despite almost 15 other presidential candidates in the race, there are extremely low expectations for any sort of impact on the likelihood of al-Bashir’s impending victory by these other candidates. In the country that has recently been dealing with crises such as South Sudan’s succession and accusations by the international community of the commitment of war crimes and other crimes against humanity, it is quite intriguing that there is not a stronger dissent group to the continuation of al-Bashir as president.

Interestingly, there is a small opposition group that is choosing to boycott the elections and voting altogether in order to make a statement against the reign of al-Bashir. Many people believe, however, that by boycotting the elections, this opposition group is not making a realistic impact on the elections. Much of the opposition group’s concerns and reasoning for boycotting the elections is centered around the plausibility of fairness in the elections. Additionally, concerns about the government rigging the elections and violence are those most cited as reasoning for boycotting the elections. The elections, however, are to be formally observed by the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and the Arab League–all organizations which have pledged to ensure fairness and transparency throughout the elections.

The outcome of the elections will be most interesting in relation to the International Criminal Court because if al-Bashir is no longer in power, there is a greater potential for pursuing the trial against him for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

ICC Calls for Security Council Action in Sudan

Yesterday, the ICC released a statement calling for the Security Council to take some action to enforce their referral of the Sudan situation, made in 2005.  The Court requested the UNSC take “necessary measures” to enforce compliance, and said without UNSC support, the referral would “never achieve its ultimate goal, namely, to end impunity.”  The Pre-Trial Chamber II found that Sudan failed to cooperate with the Court in refusing to arrest Bashir, and emphasized that as a member of the UN, Sudan has the obligation to “cooperate fully with and provide any necessary assistance to the Court and the Prosector pursuant to this resolution.”  Sudan failed to cooperate by refusing to engage in talks with the court, failing to execute pending arrest warrants, and failing to notify the Chamber that the warrants would not be executed.

This is at least the eighth time that Chief Prosecutor Benousoda has requested enforcement assistance from the Security Council.  It is interesting that the statement readily admits that without support from the Security Council, the court alone will not be able to end impunity.  By expressly pointing out Sudan’s failures of compliance and explaining the Court’s inability to arrest Bashir without Security Council support, the Court admits its own lack of enforcement power, which may actually bolster its legitimacy.  By highlighting the ways in which Sudan violated its obligations to the Court, the blame is put on the Security Council for failing to follow through and enforce their referral.  The fact that Bashir has not been brought to the Hague and put on trial is not the fault of the ICC, but the international community.

Sudanese Rebel Leader Calls Upcoming Election a Hoax

sudanese rebel pic

Minni Minnawi, a rebel leader in the Sudanese Liberation Army, spoke out to the international community this week after the U.S. eased sanctions on Khartoum. This easing comes despite reports of renewed violence in Darfur, with 50,000 people being displaced since the beginning of 2015. An election is coming up this April, but Minnawi is not hopeful. According to Minnawi, the election is just propaganda, as Omar al-Bashir has already secured the victory. Minnawi asserted that his movement will not recognize this election as legitimate and urged the international community to not recognize Bashir as a legitimate head of state. Many opposition parties to Bashir’s regime have threatened to boycott the election.

Meanwhile, last week Washington decided to relax its sanctions on Sudan and allow some communications equipment to go into the country. South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma also met in Khartoum, calling Bashir a “dear brother” and noting the increasing cooperation occurring between Sudan and South Africa. Minnawi saw this as an insult, denying that Bashir could be characterized as a “dear brother.”

These events bring some important questions to mind. In light of the relaxation of U.S. sanctions on Sudan, is the U.S. forgoing justice in order to pursue more diplomatically advantageous relations with Sudan? Is the U.S. giving up because Bashir looks like he is going to win another election, and thus they will have to work with him? Why have no bells been rung about the potential election fraud in Sudan? Shouldn’t the AU be doing something about this fraud, as an organization meant to symbolize democratic progress in the continent? Democracy that isn’t really democracy is not worth upholding, is it? Furthermore, as we have seen in Kenya and in Cote d’Ivoire, election controversy has been a notorious instigator of violence. With Sudanese rebel groups threatening to boycott the election, calling it propaganda, post-election violence may be looming in Sudan.

Moreover, if Bashir wins again, what will that mean for the international community’s pursuit of justice against him? As we saw with President Kenyatta in Kenya, prosecuting a sitting head of state is immensely difficult. If Bashir is re-elected, as he is expected to be, pursuing justice against him may be that much harder.

Lastly, what do South African President Jacob Zuma’s comments indicate about Africa’s stance on Bashir? Based off of his comments, it appears that Zuma is more interested in cooperation with Sudan than he is with bringing Bashir to justice. Politics seem to be taking precedence over accountability, which is disturbing given South Africa’s history of apartheid.

For the full article, click here.

UN’s obstruction of its own mandate

In preparing for our upcoming topic, the International Criminal Court, I came across an article in Reuters, discussing the statement by Song, the President of the Court, relating to the lack of support by the UN Security Council in cases of referral. Upon looking into the cases of Libya and Darfur, it became evident to me that most challenges faced by the Court are related to a lack of cooperation on the part of governments in question. As Song states, action must be taken by the Council to emphasize the importance of the assistance of its member states in its own cases. Otherwise, the referral of these mandates to the ICC is deemed senseless, which unfortunately has been the case in too many situations.

The article goes on to exemplify such cases. With respect to Darfur, following the indictment of Omar Hassan al-Bashir by the Court, African states voted not to cooperate with the decision, and even ICC member states, who are obliged to carry out the Court’s verdicts, let Bashir travel independently through their borders. In the Libyan case, on the other hand, Libyan authorities refuse to hand Gaddafi to the ICC to provide a fair trial on the basis of the charges in said war crimes. In trying to adjudicate him in its national courts, Libya will cause his trials to not be fair or impartial, thereby, in a sense, obstructing justice. As the mandate was referred to the Court by the Security Council, it has the power to pursue the case despite the fact that Libya is not a state party to the Rome Statute of the ICC. It will be decided by ICC judges whether Gaddafi should be extradited to the Hague or dealt with in Libyan trials, however in either case, the Security Council’s full support in ensuring the cooperation of the authorities of their own member state.

In a situation where the lawyer appointed by the ICC for Gaddafi can be detained in Libya based on allegations of espionage, there should be no need to highlight the crucial importance of the Council’s contribution to the case in dealing with their own member states, and taking action if necessary. However, in response to vague statements such as the one by the Secretary General himself, simply repeating the unease expressed by Song as if it constitutes a concrete solution, it seems like there is little that can be done.

Ugandan army says Sudan is backing Joseph Kony’s LRA

A Ugandan colonel stated that they had captured an LRA member dressed in Sudanese garments and armed with Sudanese weaponry. Sudan’s ambassador denies these claims. A Ugandan rep stated that “Kony knows we can’t enter that region, so when the pressure is high in Central Africa he crosses into the Sudanese border [areas],” In the past Uganda helped support southern  Sudan. While at the same time it was believed that Sudan supported the LRA so as to weaken them and their support of Southern Sudan.

UN Peace Camp bombed by Sudanese Air Force

It’s been confirmed today that a peacekeepers’ camp was among the targets bombed in a border dispute. It was announced today that no one had been harmed in the attack yesterday, but there are conflicting reports and some say that civilians were wounded and killed.  The Sudanese government continues to protest and say that bombings such as these are not taking place, but it’s obviously not the case. If the level of aggression and blood thirst in this conflict as arisen to the level that even peacekeeper’s are targeted then how can it be hoped that a peaceful resolution is what is on the  minds of those involved in the conflict? Acts of Aggression fall under the purview of the court, so it seems to me that Sudan isn’t concerned with international reaction to them taking steps like this.

Sudan “State of War”

As we have talked about in class, Sudan was divided into north and south last summer.  Troops from the South took over Heglig, a city high in oil production.  Heglig is a border city between the North and South, so as can be expected, problems are arising.  Today, the government we all know and “love” from Khartoum decided to declare a State of War until Southern Sudanese troops let go of Heglig.

General Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein is also suggesting that South Sudan is trying to overthrow the government by giving a rebel group from Darfur funds.  They even went as far as filing a complaint about South Sudan to the United Nations who responded by saying that hostilities need to end before more deaths occur.

Let’s not forget that both sides have accused the other of committing atrocities, Sudan is charged with attacking unarmed civilians, and South Sudan is charged with setting up arms on its border with the north.

Speaking of Celebrity Involvement..!

George Clooney was arrested outside of the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, D.C. as part of a protest!!!! An article and video can be found here! 


Bashir Slams ICC

Bashir Slams ICC

President Bashir condemned the ICC for issuing an arrest warrant for his defense minister. Bashir addressed the crowd during a rally, accusing the ICC of trying to undermine a symbol of the country’s armed forces. He then said he and his minister would defend the dignity and pride of Sudan.

The court said Hussein is wanted on 41 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, torture, pillaging and attacks against civilians.

Sudanese officials dismissed the warrant, saying they did not plan to hand over Hussein. Sudan does not recognize the ICC and has previously dismissed the prosecutors’ charges against Hussein as politically motivated.

Bashir has continued to ignore the ICC’s arrest warrant by continuing to travel abroad, but only in countries that are not participants of the ICC, or where authorities are unlikely to arrest him.

The U.S. has also expressed their opinion, specifically U.S. secretary Hilary Clinton saying that Bashir appears to be undermining the new South Sudan, adding that Washington would consider increasing pressure on Bashir to reverse course”.

Since 1997, Sudan has been under U.S. economic sanctions. Bashir fired back following Clinton’s statement by saying “The Americans always said they will treat Sudan with a carrot and stick. We want to say to them: we don’t want their carrot because their roots are poisoned and nasty. And we don’t fear their stick.”

What do you think about this statement and the fact that it seems Bashir may never be taken down by the ICC?

ICC Issues Arrest Warrant for Sudan’s Defense Minister

The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant Thursday for Sudan’s defense minister, the third senior regime official sought by the court for alleged involvement in atrocities in Darfur.

The court announced it wants Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein arrested on a warrant containing seven counts of crimes against humanity and six war crimes including murder, persecution, rape and torture. The charges cover 41 different incidents, the court said.

With the arrest warrant of Bashir and one other upper level official already out and, so far, unsuccessful, what do you think will be the effect of this new arrest warrant? Although Sudan is not a state party to the ICC, the UNSC has asked Ocampo to investigate the atrocities in Darfur. Do you see this move as closer to bringing the accused perpetrators to justice? Or could it simply exacerbate tensions?