Deputy Legal Advisor
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
December 10, 2020
Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you, Madam Prosecutor, for your briefing.
Despite the impacts of the COVID-19 epidemic, which are being felt everywhere, we are heartened to see continued positive developments in Sudan over the past year.
We have been encouraged by the concrete steps parties in Sudan have taken to build a more stable, secure, and human rights-respecting future. We are particularly pleased that Sudan’s civilian-led transitional government, the Sudan Revolutionary Front, and other groups signed a landmark peace agreement aimed at ending almost two decades of conflict. This important step forward alongside the transitional government’s implementation of justice and accountability measures, including the formation of a special court in Darfur to try atrocity crimes, can help address decades of violence committed with impunity against Darfuri victims, and will increase the prospects for a just and enduring peace across Sudan.
The sound of celebration in the streets as the government welcomed rebels back to Khartoum is a sign the Sudanese people are tired of war and conflict and are ready to move forward. Genuine accountability would be a positive step for Sudan, a clear break from the past, and a clear demonstration of its commitment to freedom and justice.
The United States will continue its efforts to deepen diplomatic relations with the new Sudanese government and support its ongoing peace negotiations with several other armed opposition groups. We will continue to encourage them to use a survivor-centered approach during these negotiations, and ensure that the voices of women, youth, and other groups, who have borne the brunt of the Bashir regime’s violence, are heard. We must ensure the Bashir-era crimes are not forgotten or ignored. In particular, we applaud the Sudanese women who were on the frontlines to promote human rights and good governance, often at great risk to their personal safety.
The United States supports Sudan’s efforts to uphold democratic values, strengthen an independent justice system, and pursue legal reform to ensure equality for all, regardless of gender, religion, or ethnicity. We will continue to encourage open, inclusive national dialogues about how transitional justice mechanisms can facilitate truth, justice, reconciliation, and healing during Sudan’s fragile and ongoing political transition.
There are few in Sudan who deserve to face justice more than Omar al-Bashir. Although we are encouraged by his recent conviction for financial corruption, we believe more needs to be done to pursue justice and accountability, specifically with regard to his alleged responsibility for acts of genocide committed in Darfur and other atrocities committed throughout the country.
As we have said for more than a decade, there will be no lasting peace in Sudan until there is genuine accountability for all the crimes that have been committed during the long years of conflict. The Darfur conflict – which killed an estimated 300,000 people, led to the displacement of millions more and entailed rampant sexual violence and the looting and burning of homes – demands justice. There are still almost two million internally displaced persons in Darfur. Those responsible for the crimes committed in the conflicts in Darfur and the Two Areas must be held accountable for their misconduct. We must also ensure that those who oppose Sudan’s efforts to address its painful past have no power to hijack Sudan’s future.
The United States has historically been, and will continue to be, a strong supporter of meaningful accountability and justice for victims of atrocities through appropriate mechanisms. Perpetrators of atrocities must face justice, but we must also be careful to recognize the right tool for each situation.
I must reiterate our longstanding and principled objection to any assertion of ICC jurisdiction over nationals of States that are not party to the Rome Statute, absent a UN Security Council referral or the consent of such States. Our concerns regarding the ICC and the situation in Afghanistan are well-known.
Our position on the ICC in no way diminishes the United States’ commitment to supporting accountability for atrocities, violations of international humanitarian law, and gross violations of human rights.
I thank you, Mr. President.