International Criminal Court - Darfur
- Protection of Civilians
- Rule of Law
UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
Statement by Mr Michael Bliss, Political Coordinator, Permanent Mission of Australia to the United Nations
I would like to thank Mrs Bensouda for her briefing, for the comprehensive report before us and for the continuing efforts of the Office of the Prosecutor in relation to the situation in Darfur in difficult circumstances.
Australia is deeply concerned that in the six months since the Prosecutor's last briefing, there has been no improvement in the situation in Darfur. Violence has continued unabated. Furthermore, the Prosecutor's report makes clear that crimes including the targeting of civilians, sexual and gender-based violence, forced displacements and attacks on humanitarian workers and peacekeepers continue to be committed.
Australia remains concerned at the continued failure by the Government of Sudan to ensure the protection of civilians, and its failure to cooperate fully with UNAMID and the Special Representative for Darfur.
As this Council recognised when it referred the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC) eight years ago, the ICC has a crucial role to play in ensuring accountability in Darfur. Given the ongoing violence and crimes being committed in Darfur, that fact is no less true today than it was eight years ago.
While we welcome the Office of the Prosecutor's ongoing preparation for the trial of Abdallah Banda, it is clear that the Office has been unable to progress other investigations and prosecutions due to Sudan's failure to cooperate with the Court. The ongoing failure to arrest and surrender, or to bring to justice, President Al-Bashir, Defence Minister Hussein, the Governor of Southern Kordofan Ahmed Harun, and Ali Kushayb, is of particular concern. While the adoption of policies of non essential contact has somewhat limited the movements of the indictees in the most recent reporting period, Australia regrets that President Al-Bashir and Defence Minister Hussein have been able to travel outside of Sudan, including to certain ICC States Parties, without being arrested.
For eight years, Sudan has ignored its obligations under Resolution 1593. In response, the Council has been virtually silent. The inescapable conclusion is, as Mrs Bensouda has put it, that the Council's silence and inaction has contributed to Sudan's continued determination to ignore this Council.
The Council's inaction on this issue lies in stark contrast to the Council's recognition of the importance of accountability processes. As Mrs Bensouda has reminded us, as recently as 6 August 2013, the Council recalled that 'justice and the rule of law are of key importance for promoting and maintaining peace, stability and development in the world.' The same Presidential Statement emphasised that 'ending impunity is essential in a conflict and post-conflict society's efforts to come to terms with past serious crimes under international law and in preventing future serious crimes under international law.'
The time has well and truly arrived for the Council to take concrete steps to assist the Court in relation to the situation in Darfur. We need to consider carefully what the Council can do to support the Court, which, after all, is only exercising its jurisdiction as a result of the Council's referral. As Australia has suggested before, one obvious step for the Council to take would be for the Council's Sudan sanctions committee to give greater consideration to how the measures at its disposal could assist the ICC on the execution of the outstanding arrest warrants. But we can do more. We support the view that we need a Council forum for legal experts to discuss ICC matters, so as to strengthen the Council's cooperation with the ICC.
We note that differences of view among States have emerged in recent months on the role of the ICC in particular contexts. In this context, it is noteworthy that the ICC Assembly of States Parties (ASP) meeting in November demonstrated that, by adopting a flexible and constructive approach, appropriate solutions can be found to address legitimate concerns. It is essential, however, that all ICC States Parties abide by their obligations under the Rome Statute, including in relation to cooperation with the Court.
Eight years after the Council's referral of the situation in Darfur to the ICC, conflict continues to be a daily reality. Rome Statute crimes continue to be perpetrated with impunity, and this only fuels further violence. It is crucial, therefore, that the Council provide stronger support to the Court's efforts to end impunity than it has to date.