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ICC Indicts Suspects in Darfur

Roughly beginning in 2003, the Janjaweed paramilitary force in Sudan began a systematic cleansing campaign against the Fur, Zaghawa, and Massaleit ethnic groups in Darfur. Accusations of genocide have been widely circulated since the conflict began; many human rights groups cite some 400,000 deaths from the conflict, with millions displaced.

In January, 2005, The International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur report to the Secretary-General of the United Nations concluded that "the Government of the Sudan and the Janjaweed are responsible for serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law amounting to crimes under international law". Among these allegations are the use of rape as a weapon and the dismemberment and killing of noncombatants.

The United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1593 in March, 2005, which referred the situation in Darfur to the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Haque. The Prosecutor then began investigating the situation in June, 2005.

On February 27, 2007, the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICC disclosed the names of two leading suspects, acting humanitarian affairs minister Ahmed Haroun, and Janjaweed militia leader Ali Abd al-Rahman (a.k.a. Ali Kushayb), regarding war crimes in Sudan's Darfur region. According to BBC reporting, ICC chief prosecutor Luis-Moreno-Ocampo stated that there was reason to believe that the suspects "bear criminal responsibility for crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur in 2003 and 2004"

The OTP unveiled over 100 pages of evidence highlighting of least 51 counts against the two men regarding the atrocities in Darfur. Human Rights Watch issued a report in 2005 highlighting many of the OTP findings.

This is the first case to be referred to the ICC by the UN Security Council. However, the Sudanese government does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC and therefore does not feel obliged to hand suspects over to that body or cooperate in any way. Furthermore, Sudanese officials claim that the judicial bodies are in place to handle atrocities at the national level. However, so far only minor infractions have been brought before that body. Outside of the initial complications of ICC jurisdiction is the effect this may have on the deployment of UN peacekeepers to the region.

ICC Indicts Suspects in DarfurThis also brings with it discussions on state sovereignty. Law and order, sustainable infrastructure, and good governance are synonymous with the responsibilities of states. The right to sovereignty is the right to independence from external coercion if these responsibilities are met. States fail when the capability or the will to uphold these responsibilities is no longer satisfactory. In this case, the rights of sovereignty are forfeited. Speaking in 2005, Prime Minister Tony Blair echoed the notions of responsible soveriegnty, stating "For the first lime … we are agreed that states do not have the right to do what they will within their own borders, but that we, in the name of humanity, have a common duty to protect people where their own governments will not."

The BBC has extensive commentary on the crisis in Darfur here
Wikipedia has the following entry here
And NPR has commentary here and here



Daniel Graeber

Daniel Graeber is a writer for United Press International covering Iraq, Afghanistan and the broader Levant. He has published works on international and constitutional law pertaining to US terrorism cases and on child soldiers. His first major work, entitled The United States and Israel: The Implications of Alignment, is featured in the text, Strategic Interests in the Middle East: Opposition or Support for US Foreign Policy. He holds a MA in Diplomacy and International Conflict Management from Norwich University, where his focus was international relations theory, international law, and the role of non-state actors.

Areas of Focus:International law; Middle East; Government and Politics; non-state actors