China Shield’s Sudan in the Security Council After ICC Prosecutor’s Report

The government of Sudan continues to evade its legal obligations to arrest and surrender two individuals indicted by the International Criminal Court for multiple counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes. In his December 5, 2007 report to the Security Council, ICC Prosecutor Louis Moreno-Ocampo described the failures of the government of Sudan to cooperate with the ICC in its investigation of Ahmad Muhammad Harun and Ali Muhammad Ali Abd Al Rahman (aka Ali Kushayb). Most members of the Security Council were prepared to react strongly to Sudan’s non-cooperation with the ICC through a collective Presidential Statement, but the effort was ultimately undermined by China with the support of Qatar.

In Resolution 1593, the Security Council ordered the ICC to investigate the situation in Darfur. The Council passed the resolution as a binding measure, making it compulsory for all states to comply with its provisions. Throughout the ICC Prosecutor’s investigation, the government of Sudan provided minimal cooperation, which evolved into outright hostility once ICC judges issued arrest warrants for Harun (a high ranking government minister) and Ali Kushayb (a leader of the Janjaweed militia) in April 2007. Both men continue to move about Sudan freely in spite of the ICC’s arrest warrants.

China abstained from voting on Security Council Resolution 1593, but that does not absolve China from working to enforce the resolution. As a permanent member of the Security Council, China has a particular responsibility to ensure that binding resolutions passed by the Council are implemented. However, in a direct breach of this responsibility, China used its muscle to thwart a strong, collective condemnation of Sudan’s non-cooperation with the ICC. This is not surprising given China’s close military, political and economic relationship with the government of Sudan. The relationship between the two governments has grown stronger while the violence in Darfur continues.

After the ICC Prosecutor delivered his stinging report of Sudan’s non-cooperation with the ICC, Ambassador Liu Zhenmin, Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations, stated “We encourage the Government of the Sudan to continue to step up its communications, establish mutual trust and strengthen cooperation with the ICC.” Given Khartoum’s well known antagonism towards the ICC, this statement sent a clear signal: China has no intention of holding Sudan to account for evading its legal obligation to cooperate with the ICC. And in fact, China will enable Khartoum’s continued evasion.

China’s reaction to the ongoing crisis in Darfur is a litmus test for gauging its willingness to behave responsibly as an emerging global power. While, for a brief time, China was helpful in pressuring Khartoum to accept a hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping force, China’s response to Sudan’s non-cooperation with the ICC appears to represent a stark reversal. China purports to support the international community’s efforts to resolve the problem of immunity in Darfur. But such statements are rendered meaningless unless they are backed up by concrete actions in support of justice and accountability in Darfur through the ICC.


Published on December 1, 2007


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