The politics of Sudan.

Author:Goldstone, Richard
Position:Proceedings of the One Hundred Second Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law: The Politics of International Law

This panel was convened at 10:45 a.m., Thursday, April 10, by its moderator, Adrien Wing of the University of Iowa College of Law, who introduced the panelists: Justice Richard Goldstone, formerly of the Constitutional Court of South Africa; Courtney Hostetler of the Sudan Divestment Task Force; and Jason Small of the U.S. State Department.


It should be noted that this is one of two panels hosted by the Africa Interest group this year. As a former Chair of that group, I am very pleased to state that it is under the able leadership of Cornell law professor Chantal Thomas and Utah law professor Erika George. Our topic, "The Politics of the Sudan," is very timely. Darfur is now often synonymous with genocide. Yet the international community's response to atrocities there and in other parts of Sudan has been less than overwhelming. We have a wonderful panel to address this and a variety of issues concerning Sudan, including: to what extent have regional and international politics constrained responses to the crisis? What is the effect of Sudan's oil reserves? What role does politics in the United States play, and what will be the effect of municipal initiatives on the federal government's actions?

As the principal organizer of this panel, and a member of the Annual Meeting committee, I should also like to note that we tried very conscientiously to get a Sudanese representative from a variety of constituencies to participate, but were ultimately unsuccessful. Our first panelist is a world renowned international lawyer from Africa and very well known to ASIL. Judge Richard Goldstone is a former justice of the South African Constitutional Court and a former prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. He is followed by a representative of the NGO community, Ms. Courtney Hostetler, who is a research analyst for the Sudan Divestment Task Force, which is a project of Genocide Intervention. Finally, we are fortunate to have a representative from the Bush administration, Mr. Jason Small, from the Sudan desk of the U.S. State Department. I would like to acknowledge the absence of our original moderator, Northeastern Law School professor Hope Lewis, who was taken ill and is unable to travel. She is here with us in spirit, and has dedicated her career to human rights issues, including those that relate to Africa.


According to a recent Reuters report, international experts estimate that 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million have been driven from their homes in five years of fighting in Darfur. (1) Despite hand-wringing on the part of world leaders, the violence continues.

It is regrettable and almost inconceivable that an international army will be sent into Sudan to protect the victims of the violations being perpetrated by the Government of Sudan in the Darfur region. The joint United Nations/African Union Peacekeeping force has been unable to operate because of political roadblocks created by the Government of Sudan.

Attempts by the Western members of the Security Council to have it take meaningful steps against the Government of Sudan have been successfully blocked by China, which has a significant investment interest in Sudan and purchases some 60 to 85 percent of Sudan's oil output of 500,000 barrels per day. China would be adamantly opposed to peremptory economic sanctions being imposed against Sudan.

In January 2005, an international inquiry appointed by the UN Secretary-General into the war crimes perpetrated in Darfur reported to the Security Council on the policy of the Sudanese Government to attack, kill and forcibly displace members of some of the tribes living in Darfur. The Commission of Inquiry recommended that the situation be referred by the Security Council to the International Criminal Court (ICC). On March 31, 2006, the Security Council acted on that recommendation and made the suggested reference to the ICC. It did so using its peremptory powers under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations. The reference is thus binding on all members of the United Nations, including Sudan. Pursuant to the reference, the ICC has issued arrest warrants against two officials in the Government of Sudan. That Government has adamantly refused to transfer the two officials for trial in The Hague. Indeed, one of the officials has been promoted by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and is now a full member of his cabinet.

It is in these circumstances that I have suggested that the Security Council should consider imposing a modified oil-for-food program for Sudan. Sudan should be prohibited from selling its oil to any member of the United Nations unless the revenues are paid into a UN-controlled bank account and the proceeds used by Sudan only for non-military goods. The problems associated with the Iraq Oil-for-Food program were carefully analyzed and identified by the Volcker Inquiry Committee and a repetition can be avoided. It should be recognized that the Iraq Oil-for-Food Program diverted some billions in oil revenues from the pocket of Saddam Hussein and forced his government to use that revenue for humanitarian goods for the benefit of the people of Iraq. A similar program could well assist the people of Sudan and, more particularly, act as a strong incentive for the Government of Sudan to stop committing genocide or crimes against humanity against the people of Darfur.

* Bessie Dutton...

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