On July 12th, the International Criminal Court's (ICC) Pre-Trial Chamber 1 judges issued a second arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir after determining that there are reasonable grounds to believe he is responsible for three counts of genocide committed against the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups in Darfur. As an alliance of more than 190 faith-based, advocacy and human...
On July 12th, the International Criminal Court's (ICC) Pre-Trial Chamber 1 judges issued a second arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir after determining that there are reasonable grounds to believe he is responsible for three counts of genocide committed against the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups in Darfur. As an alliance of more than 190 faith-based, advocacy and human rights organizations working together to bring peace and justice to Darfur and all Sudan, we welcome this new arrest warrant and urge you to lead the international community in pursuing justice for the people of Darfur in parallel with efforts to achieve peace and security for all Sudanese.
It is urgently necessary for your administration to send a clear signal to the Government of Sudan that any acts that threaten civilians, Sudanese human rights activists, aid workers or peacekeepers in Darfur will not be tolerated. After the first ICC warrant was issued for al-Bashir's arrest in March 2009, Khartoum expelled over a dozen international aid groups and disbanded three Sudanese aid organizations, forcing an emergency response from the United Nations and international community to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in Darfur. Despite these efforts, many humanitarian programs, including aid for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, have not been restored over the last sixteen months. Vigilant monitoring and action by your administration and other world leaders is necessary to prevent compounding this tragedy. Such vigilance is particularly critical given that this arrest warrant comes in the midst of a spike in violence in Darfur and a government crackdown on human rights and political freedoms in Sudan in the wake of seriously flawed elections this past April.
The United States government should also publicly reaffirm its support for the ICC's pursuit of justice in Darfur. As a leader in the international community and a permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC), which referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC in 2005, the United States has a vital role in ensuring justice and accountability for the gravest crimes committed against civilians. Your administration should work together with the UNSC and ICC member states to ensure the swift enforcement of this and all ICC arrest warrants for those accused of atrocities in Darfur.
Finally, the United States must intensify its diplomatic efforts to negotiate a just agreement that addresses the root causes of the conflict in Darfur and to press for the full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in its last stages. Toward these ends and to prevent a return to broader conflict in Sudan, your administration should put into action the promised consequences and pressures for the lack of measurable progress and continued backsliding on key benchmarks by the Government of Sudan and other Sudanese actors. During this volatile period in Sudan, it is imperative that the ICC warrants are not manipulated by the Government of Sudan to disrupt or distract from the fragile Darfur peace process or preparations for the upcoming referendum on southern secession.
In light of the challenges currently faced by the Sudanese people, justice and accountability remain critical components of a comprehensive and lasting solution to the crisis in Darfur. As advocates, we thank you for the leadership you have shown pushing for peace in Darfur and supporting the International Criminal Court's pursuit of justice. In this historic moment - a milestone in the pursuit of international justice and a pivotal step for the people of Sudan - strong leadership by the United States is of utmost importance. We urge your administration to seize this opportunity to lead the international community in working for a just resolution to the conflict in Darfur and lasting peace for all Sudanese.