17 June 2014 - Security Council - Sudan/Report of the ICC Prosecutor - Statement by Mr. Alexis Lamek, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
I too thank Prosecutor Bensouda for her report. It is a report with a particularly serious tone that warrants not only the Security Council but also the Secretariat to question the impact of the activities we have undertaken for the benefit of the civilian population in Darfur.
The immense region of Darfur has been the site of atrocities since 2002. At the very start, the Council created the International Commission of Inquiry for Darfur and, on that basis, referred the situation in Darfur to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2005. The first arrest warrants of the ICC were delivered in 2007. Furthermore, the Council has not remained inactive on the political front as it has actively participated in the mediation efforts with the African Union. It also deployed to Darfur one of its largest peacekeeping operations, the African Union/United Nations Hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID).
But let us be clear enough to acknowledge that, failing the genuine implementation of resolution 1593 (2005), the situation has only gotten worse. We have not succeeded in meeting our responsibility to protect the civilian population in Darfur. Almost 400,000 new internally displaced persons (IDPs) since February 2014, aerial bombings of villages, sexual violence on a massive scale committed against women, militias practicing scorched-earth policies attacking the IDP camp at Khor Abeche — the destruction of an entire people is the goal. The only development is that they changed the name of the Janjaweed militias. They now go by the name Rapid Support Forces, but the crimes are the same. Their modus operandi remains the same as that they followed in the darkest periods of the conflict.
The tragedy has taken on a national dimension. The action of the Rapid Support Forces and the violation of fundamental rights involve the entire territory. Although the Sudanese Government says that it is ready to launch a comprehensive process of national dialogue and constitutional review, its calls to action are void of any meaning as it increases the negative signals it is putting out — arresting opponents, bombing of civilian targets and sentencing Mariam Yahya Ibrahim to death for abandoning Islam.
UNAMID’s effectiveness at protecting civilians is now open to question. The Security Council has therefore decided to undertake a strategic review of the force in order to improve its responsiveness and to allow it to refocus on its principal task — the protection of civilians. The Mission has been reproached for self-censoring, for minimizing the responsibility of the Sudanese authorities in the attacks, and for failing to take into full account the crimes that it had witnessed. Those are serious allegations. The Secretariat should seek to remedy the situation. Many of us also regret that the policy of avoiding essential contacts with persons subject to International Criminal Court arrest warrants, defined by the Secretary-General, has been sullied in the context of Darfur.
But we cannot put the blame for failure on the Mission alone. UNAMID is not a mission for imposing peace. We ask it to protect civilians who are directly affected, but at the same time to work in harmony with security forces that are guilty of crimes. If the Council is genuinely serious about implementing the peace agreement and protecting civilians, we must go beyond a strategic review of UNAMID. The fight against impunity must be reinvigorated. We cannot continue discussing the role of the Council in the fight against sexual violence and confine ourselves, as we are doing now, to asking UNAMID and the agencies to undertake training activities on how victims should fill out a complaint form. That is not serious.
Not a single head of militia is worried. President Thabo Mbeki himself said so before the Council. We must in fact pursue and arrest responsible parties if we want to finally bring an end to the violence in Darfur.
We are divided on the opportunity to arrest President Al-Bashir, which is unfortunate. It is also unfortunate that certain States parties to the Rome Statute continue to meet with him. France believes that such visits show disrespect for resolution 1593 (2005) and States’ obligations under the Rome Statute. Beyond a particular interpretation of the law, one must also think of the impact of such visits, which can only encourage the Sudanese security forces and the militias to continue their practices.
Let us look towards the future. With respect to the Secretariat and the agencies, that means that the principal actors must have better communication with the Court; that aplies in particular to the African Union/United Nations Joint Special Representative, the Darfur Peace Agreement, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence, the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Development Programme. Let us be more consistent in the information that is disseminated and in the activities we deploy on the ground. We need a results-based approach, not an approach based on the number of seminars we hold.
As for the Council, we must measure the negative impact of our inability to implement resolution 1593 (2005). We see it in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, where the Sudanese Government is repeating the same old practices against the population, including aerial bombings that target hospitals and schools. We see it throughout the region, in South Sudan and in the Central African Republic, where perpetrators of massive abuses believe — wrongly — that they enjoy total impunity. It is not a question of whether or not we support the ICC, but a matter of the maintenance of peace and security throughout the region.
In conclusion, I reiterate our full confidence in the Prosecutor. It would undoubtedly be useful, as proof of that support, if the Secretariat reassured her that it will mobilize all its components in support of international criminal justice. It would also be useful if future Council resolutions on Darfur reflected its concerns over the aerial bombings, the disarmament of militias, sexual violence and the necessity for the Sudan to cooperate with the International Criminal Court.
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