REPORT: What the Warrant Means: Justice, Peaceand the Key Actors in Sudan
WASHINGTON, DC, February 12, 2009 – A new report by the Enough Project at the Center for American Progress explores the impact of an arrest warrant forSudan’s President on the ruling party, Darfuri rebel groups, the existing north-south peace agreement, and the international community. The decision by the Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court, or ICC, to issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is both welcome and unsurprising given the long pattern of profound abuses in Sudan directed from the highest echelons of government.
The response of key actors in Sudan to the ICC’s move against Bashir is still obviously a work in progress, but the choices made in the coming weeks by Bashir’s National Congress, or NCP, the main rebel groups in Darfur, and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, will have profound impact on the country’s future.Understanding the calculations of these actors is fundamental to leveraging the arrest warrant into progress toward peace.
Enough Project Executive Director John Norris commented, “As we have learned from earlier indictments of Liberian President Charles Taylor and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, these charges can be a catalyst for peace — if the international community stands resolutely behind efforts to promote accountability while simultaneously pursuing a strategic approach to a peace process. The situation in Sudan is no different.” Senior officials within Bashir’s NCP are deeply concerned about the possibility of further charges by the ICC, and a growing fissure between Bashir’s loyalists and potentially more pragmatic elements of the NCP could lead to the president’s removal.
The international community must now fashion a firm and coordinated peace strategy conditioned on actions rather than words and policies rather than personalities. What should be clear to the international community, including the United States, is that President Bashir should be delivered to the court to face a fair trial on the charges against him. Furthermore, the international community needs to use multilateral diplomacy, well targeted pressures, and judicious incentives to bring both the NCP and Darfur’s rebel groups to the negotiating table, while making a major effort to revitalize the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, or CPA, as part of a broader and more strategic peace effort for all of Sudan.
Enough Project Co-chair John Prendergast observed, "The arrest warrant for President Bashir is the potential game-changer that the Sudanese people have been waiting for, in order to shake up the deadly status quo that has led to millions of deaths in Darfur and Southern Sudan. The warrant offers the Obama administration a chance to lead multilateral efforts to bring about a solution to Sudan’s decades-long cycle of warfare. Working publicly for a peace deal forDarfur and privately for Bashir's resignation will provide the necessary international leadership that has been lacking for some time."
For the latest news and reactions to the ICC’s actions, see Enough Said, the new blog from the Enough Project policy team, at www.enoughproject.org/blog.
The day we've all be waiting for has arrived, or almost arrived - it's sort of like Christmas Eve, if you replace Santa with a judicial panel from the International Criminal Court.
The Court announced earlier today that it will issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Bashir, but declined to specify under which of the three charges (war crimes, crimes against humanitary and genocide).
The question, of course, is what Bashir will do - tho safe to say he hasn't developed a zen-like state of detachment. The New York Times - in wonderfully understated language - described a recent "unscheduled encounter" between Bashir and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at a summit meeting in Ethiopia. According to the paper:
"Diplomats described it as 'a stormy meeting' and 'a shouting match' in which Mr. Bashir vented his anger at the court, though it is independent of the United Nations. Mr. Ban, in turn, insisted on the safety of United Nations staff members and peacekeepers, and demanded that Mr. Bashir stop the attacks on civilians."
If Bashir is willing to scream at the UN Secretary General - a man who's not even responsible for the Court's actions - it's hard to imagine that he'll show much restraint when it comes to Darfur.
The Obama administration is being urged to quickly focus on the situation in Sudan and the ongoing suffering in Darfur. Key members of Congress renewed a call on Wednesday for the appointment of a presidential envoy for Sudan, while the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom issued a set of recommendations for U.S. policy.
Among its nearly two dozen policy recommendations, the commission urges the administration to increase U.S. engagement on Sudan, particularly when it comes to the fragile Comprehensive Peace Agreement, or CPA.
The International Criminal Court is set to indict Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes. It is the first game-changing opportunity in the Darfur conflict in some time and a chance for the new administration to articulate its policy in the troubled country. Today, I spoke with John Norris, an expert on genocide issues and the executive director of the Enough project, to get some sense of what's going on (questions have been edited):
What can we expect after the indictment is issued?
From past experience in looking at Liberia and looking at Serbia and some other places, there is an awful lot of internal stock taking and internal negotiations. I would be surprised if everything blows up the day after a warrant issued. There will be a lot of political machinations [in Khartoum]. For the rebels, they see this as a chance to increasingly internationalize their cause, as an opportunity to get a more robust and credible peacekeeping force on the ground and press their advantage.