This dispatch is based on research and interviews conducted by the author in Kampala, Uganda between September 11–18, 2013 at the site of Kampala Peace Talks between the Government of Congo and the M23. It is part of an ongoing Enough Project series on issues related to the peace process in Congo and the Great Lakes region.
The U.S. was put in a difficult diplomatic position this week as ICC indictee and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir announced his intent to attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York. An agreement between the U.S. and the UN legally requires the U.S. to issue Bashir a visa and facilitate his travel. Although it might seem like restrictive international laws have created this problem, some activists see law as also offering the solution. Read More »
WASHINGTON --- 25 Sudan experts, human rights groups, and leading voices on genocide prevention, including George Clooney, Don Cheadle, and Omer Ismail and John Prendergast of the Enough Project released a letter addressed to President Obama today, calling on the U.S. government to do everything possible to dissuade President Bashir from travelling to New York City for next week's U.N. meetings.
Don Cheadle, Co-Founder of Not on Our Watch, said:
"Each time that President Bashir is allowed to travel freely, without the threat of arrest, is another blow to accountability and justice for his victims. The legal issues involved in Bashir's travel to the U.N. are complicated, but we hope that the U.S. and other countries do everything in their power to prevent this trip."
Citing the 2007 Genocide Accountability Act, which allows for the prosecution of genocidaires who are in the United States, even if their crimes were committed abroad, the letter urges the administration to announce that it will open a criminal prosecution once Bashir lands. While the letter acknowledges that the U.S. is generally obliged to facilitate travel for all visiting dignitaries, since it plays host to the United Nations, it goes on to outline a number of other diplomatic steps that the administration could be taking to dissuade President Bashir from persisting with his travel plans.
John Prendergast, Co-Founder of the Enough Project, said:
"If Bashir ends up coming to the U.S. despite the administration's best efforts to convince him otherwise, all legal channels should be explored for prosecuting him under existing authority. His visit also highlights the deadly conflicts continuing to rage in Darfur, the Nuba Mountains, and Blue Nile regions of Sudan. President Obama should lead efforts at the U.N. General Assembly meetings to construct a credible and comprehensive peace process."
It is troubling that Sudan's president continues to travel around the world with impunity, notwithstanding a pending warrant for his arrest at the Hague. Now, he might even come to New York just as Sudan is facing some of the worst violence the region has seen in years. Human rights lawyers are investigating civil litigation to hold the Sudanese president accountable for his crimes and hope to serve him once he steps on U.S. soil. Meanwhile, activists are mobilizing on Capitol Hill, planning protests in New York City and warning Manhattan hotels against offering him accommodation.
The letter notes that if President Bashir attends next week's opening session at the U.N., it will be the first time that anyone who is wanted for genocide by the International Criminal Court has entered the country. It will also be President Bashir's first trip to the United States since 2006. Since then, at least 300,000 people have died in Sudan while millions more have been displaced from their homes.
# The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas affected by the Lord's Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. To learn more about Enough, go to www.enoughproject.org.
25 Sudan experts, human rights groups, and leading voices on genocide prevention, including George Clooney, Don Cheadle, John Prendergast and Omer Ismail, released an open letter addressed to President Obama, calling on the U.S. government to do everything possible to dissuade President Bashir from travelling to New York City for UN meetings.
This group of 58 European and global non-governmental organizations calls on the European Commission to adopt legislation requiring European business entities to conduct supply chain due diligence in order to ensure that they do not contribute to conflict financing or human rights abuses in the production and trade in natural resources. Such legislation should, at a minimum, meet international standards endorsed by the United Nations and by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and reflect principles contained within the European Union's own Corporate Social Responsibility strategy.
The Enough Project welcomes the appointment of Ambassador Booth as U.S. special envoy and looks forward to working with him to address the ongoing crises in and between Sudan and South Sudan.
Enough Project Co-Founder John Prendergast states:
“The challenges facing Ambassador Booth are enormous. U.S. policy as presently articulated is inadequate to those challenges. Without policy change, Booth has little chance of fulfilling the objective of the position. The U.S. must work aggressively to develop a new approach to war-torn Sudan, in particular helping to create an African-led peace process that addresses all of Sudan’s conflicts, rather than dealing with them one by one, as the present, failed model does. He should also work to focus U.S. policy on democratic transformations in both Sudan and South Sudan. The entrenched dictatorship in Khartoum and the lack of democratic institutions in Juba are fundamental drivers for present and future conflict. The U.S. can play a pivotal role in both countries if it prioritizes the building of leverage in support of comprehensive peace in the region.”
Enough Project Executive Director John C. Bradshaw states:
“The appointment of a seasoned diplomat like Don Booth to this critical position will enhance U.S efforts to promote peace within Sudan and between Sudan and South Sudan. We urge Special Envoy Booth to push for a comprehensive, internationally-backed peace process in Sudan which does not segment the conflicts across border regions—Darfur, Abyei, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile State—but addresses them holistically, and includes greater engagement with opposition groups working toward democratic transformation in Sudan.”
The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. To learn more about Enough, go to www.enoughproject.org.