Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing by the ICC Prosecutor on the Situation in Sudan

Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
January 17, 2022


Thank you, Madam President. And thank you, Mr. Prosecutor, for your report today and your briefing to us on the International Criminal Court’s investigation into the situation in Darfur. The United States welcomes your leadership since your tenure began.

As the United States affirmed at the recent meeting of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, where we participated as an Observer State, the United States stands ready to engage with the ICC to advance our shared objective of ensuring accountability for the most serious international crimes. We also welcome the recent election of two Deputy Prosecutors and ongoing review and reform efforts, which aim to strengthen the court as an institution and enhance the delivery of justice.

Mr. Prosecutor, the United States certainly welcomes your position that situations referred by the Council must be given greater prioritization in your Office’s work. We are pleased that you made it a priority to visit Sudan so early in your tenure and we appreciate the efforts of your team to reinvigorate investigations and engage victims and witnesses, including through follow-up visits to Khartoum. We also welcome your appointment of a Special Adviser focused specifically on the situation in Darfur, and we look forward to continuing to work with you on your Office’s investigation into this situation.

When we convened on the ICC’s Darfur investigation in June last year, the prospect for justice, so long-awaited by victims, as the Prosecutor has said this morning, seemed within reach. The past few months though have brought into greater relief the daunting challenges facing Sudan. The United States remains committed to accountability for the situation in Darfur – it is imperative for durable peace and stability in Sudan.

Sudan cannot wait to resolve its current political crisis, which has impacts far beyond the capital. A restored transition must immediately get to work to deliver on the commitments of the Constitutional Declaration and to implement the Juba Peace Agreement. As described in the Sudan Panel of Experts’ recent report, armed militias and their supporters have continued to attack, kill, and loot with impunity in Darfur. Intercommunal violence – with continuing cycles of attacks and counterattacks rather than any genuine resolution – threatens social cohesion, diminishes the likelihood of peaceful cohabitation, and the sustainability of the peace process. Women and girls face the persistent threat of rape while carrying out basic livelihood activities. So, Mr. Prosecutor, this is yet another horrific reminder of the prevalence of sexual violence in Darfur and beyond and makes your recent initiative to advance accountability for Gender Persecution all the more important.

The United States also notes and condemns the December attacks on the World Food Program warehouses and other storage facilities that may be depriving nearly two million people in need of assistance of lifesaving aid. Thousands of people have been forced to flee to Chad. We reiterate our call for a full investigation and for perpetrators to be held to account.

Sudanese authorities must do more to address the security vacuum, ensure the protection of civilians and most fundamentally, address the root causes of violence in these regions. Justice and accountability are a vital part of the Juba Peace Agreement, which creates a framework to address the crimes of the past and the foundation for a future in which the rights of all persons in Sudan are respected. Just as the Security Council recognized in referring this situation to the ICC over 15 years ago, the Juba Peace Agreement recognizes that the ICC – together with domestic judicial institutions and broader transitional justice mechanisms – has a central role in delivering justice to victims.

As detailed in the Prosecutor’s report, Sudanese authorities have welcomed visits by the current and former Prosecutor and their staff and have enabled them to revitalize their investigations in Darfur. This cooperation must continue. The Memorandum of Understanding signed in August, that we just heard about, was a positive step, and we are encouraged by the Prosecutor’s signal that it remains in effect.

As Sudanese stakeholders work to find a way forward to address the current crisis, the United States strongly urges authorities to continue to comply with their international legal obligations pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1593 and to cooperate with the ICC. Sudanese authorities must continue to permit ICC teams to travel within the country and cooperate with requests for evidence and other information and assistance, including through the nomination of focal points for the Office of the Prosecutor. Those who are subject to arrest warrants by the ICC must face justice and be transferred to face trial.

Madam President, in conclusion, the fact that the trial of former Janjaweed commander, Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman, is scheduled to begin in April, 15 years after the arrest warrant was issued, is a testament to what can happen when demands for justice never falter. The United States will continue to stand by the Sudanese people in support of the ICC’s efforts to advance accountability.

Thank you, Madam President.