Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
September 21, 2023
Thank you so much. Good morning, everyone.
Let me start by thanking the International Criminal Court for their partnership in this important event. You have played a key role in making sure that we continue to engage actively on these issues. And I would also like to thank our co-hosts, the United Kingdom, Norway, Canada, and The Gambia. And thank you to our moderator and to all of the panelists for speaking truth to power today.
Earlier this month, I traveled to Chad to meet with the Sudanese refugees and the humanitarian organizations who are assisting those who fled Darfur in search of safety. And it was kind of déjà vu, as you just hear from Amal. I made that same trip in 2004. And it was eerily the same. It was almost as if it were the same people. The experience for me was as traumatizing as it was in 2004. It was something that I will never forget, and it’s one that haunted me in 2004 and it haunts me today.
I watched dozens of Sudanese refugees cross the border into Chad with little more than what they could pack in one bag on top of a donkey cart. There were young children who were with their grandmothers and not their parents sitting quietly on these carts. They were not smiling. They were not dancing. They had no light in their eyes.
And then I literally saw young children in an MSF-run hospital, who were quite literally wasting away from acute malnutrition. And they were too weak to speak or to cry. And you know, usually when you see young children together in one place – even in difficult circumstances sometimes – they’re happy because they don’t really know what is going on around them. There’s no happiness in this room.
I was told by MSF as I looked at one small, small baby – who I thought was a newborn and discovered was six months old – that she actually was doing better. And she was not going to die because they had been able to bring her enough assistance to deal with her acute malnutrition – that it would save her life. To me, it looked like she was on the verge of death. So, again, it was really traumatizing.
I met young women who were victims of unthinkable, unspeakable atrocities, and who had lost all hope. And as one young woman said to me, she lost her ambition.
Colleagues, the senseless conflict in Sudan has gone on for almost five months. More than five months. And in that time, the Rapid Support Forces and allied militias have carried out atrocity after atrocity. Homes have been burned and looted. Civilians have been shot dead in the streets. Women and girls have faced rape and other forms of conflict-related sexual violence.
The violence is a consequence of years of impunity. As you heard: Inaction. The international community has failed to hold those responsible for previous crimes to account. So, these guys think they can do it again. We’ve failed to secure justice for the people of Darfur. And that needs to change immediately.
The United States supports the International Criminal Court Prosecutor’s announcement that alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur during the current fighting may be subject to ICC investigation and that his office has commenced focused investigations on recent events. The reported atrocities in Darfur are an ominous reminder of the horrific events that led the United States to determine in 2004 that genocide had been committed in Darfur. And we must not let the promise of “never again” ring hollow.
Today, I want to urge the entire international community to demand an end to the fighting in Sudan, support documentation and accountability efforts, and surge humanitarian assistance to the region.
As we approach the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we must live up to the ideals laid out in this foundational document. And we must demand the parties comply with their obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law including the protection of civilians.
While not a substitute for accountability, the United States will continue to take actions to target any party to the conflict responsible for ongoing atrocities. While in Chad, I announced sanctions on Abdelrahim Hamdan Dagalo – a senior commander in the RSF – for his connections to abuses against civilians including conflict-related sexual violence and killings based on ethnicity. And I announced U.S. visa restrictions on RSF general and West Darfur commander Abdul Rahman Juma for his involvement in gross violations of human rights.
Let me be clear: Both parties – both parties, both sides – have instigated unrelenting violence that has caused death, destruction, and carnage across Sudan – in Darfur, in Khartoum, and in many other areas. And we will continue to do everything in our power to prevent and respond to mass atrocities. You can have my word on that.
Colleagues, the eyes of the world are on us. And the eyes of history are on us. And we must come together and we must commit to justice, to accountability, and to peace for the people of Sudan.
Thank you very much.