Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the International Criminal Court's (ICC) Investigation in Darfur, Sudan

Mark Simonoff
Minister Counselor
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
June 19, 2019


Thank you, Mr. President and thank you Madame Prosecutor for your briefing. In April, civilian-led protests led to the removal of President Omar al-Bashir, whose regime was synonymous with genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and human rights violations and abuses. For months, protesters have gathered together, united in a vision for a peaceful, democratic Sudan. But rather than welcoming dialogue and discussion, those in power have responded violently.

The Transitional Military Council’s (TMC) reprehensible attacks on demonstrators in Khartoum have led to over 100 deaths and hundreds injured. Reports of security forces beating and sexually assaulting protestors, and throwing victims into the Nile must be fully and fairly investigated. The TMC’s grotesque display of violence against peaceful demonstrators in Khartoum was not an isolated incident. The government has also used excessive violence against internally displaced people in Darfur to stop peaceful rallies.

We are all too familiar with the unthinkable violence to which Darfuris have been subjected since 2003. Ongoing armed clashes in the Jebel Marra region between the Sudan Liberation Movement - Abdel Wahid (SLM/AW) rebel group and the Sudan Armed Forces, along with intercommunal violence in other parts of Darfur, serve as reminders of the ongoing security challenges that plague the region.

Darfur’s security situation has become further challenged following delays in transitioning to a civilian-led government in Khartoum. These delays have had a negative impact on human rights throughout Sudan, and obstructed the implementation of policies to support the return of Internally Displaced Persons, including in Darfur.

We are concerned by increasing violence in IDP camps. In Darfur, sexual violence, rape, harassment, and other intimidation against women, girls, and boys remains prevalent. It is for this reason that the mission of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) remains important.

We support the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council’s June 6 communique, which announced the immediate suspension of Sudan from all AU activities until the establishment of a civilian-led Transitional Authority. We call on Sudan’s interim military authorities to cease attacks against civilians, withdraw all undue restrictions on media and civil society, restore access to the Internet, and ensure unhindered access for medical care providers. We also urge them to respect human rights, including freedom of expression and fair trial guarantees.

In that vein, we urge the TMC to agree to the request by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for the rapid deployment of a UN human rights monitoring team. The UN should also make promoting respect of human rights the heart of its efforts in Sudan, whether through UNAMID or the UN Country Team.

Long-term stability in Darfur and throughout Sudan depends on resolving the underlying causes of the protracted conflict. This includes strengthening Sudan’s judicial system to ensure accountability at the local and national levels. It includes the establishment of a fully functional civilian-led national government that is committed to reform. And it includes a commitment by Khartoum to pursue a durable peace agreement in Darfur.

There will be no lasting peace in Sudan until there is genuine accountability for the crimes that have been committed against the Sudanese people. 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 atrocity crimes 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. The United States remains concerned about illegitimate attempts by the ICC to assert such jurisdiction.

We also note our disagreement with a number of aspects of the ICC Appeals Chamber’s recent decision in the Jordan appeal, including the analysis and conclusions regarding customary international law and the interpretation of Security Council resolutions, but our concerns about this decision and the ICC more generally in no way diminish our commitment to supporting accountability for atrocity crimes.

Thank you, Mr. President.