This summer, I’m interning at the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office in New York City. Part of my job is to help to coordinate an NGO Working Group on Gender Based Violence in Sudan, which works with departments in the UN, like the UNFPA and the OCHA, to help ensure the well-being of women and children in the Sudan.
I also help to coordinate the organization’s “Action for Darfur” program, which is dedicated to raising awareness and support to help end the genocide in Darfur and sustain peace throughout the rest of Sudan. Because I work with an NGO that is affiliated with the UN I am able to attend meetings at the UN that are related to Darfur and Sudan. On June 5th I attended my first meeting at the UN – a briefing by Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the Prosecutor of the ICC, to the Security Council on the current situation in Darfur!
During the first part of his briefing the Prosecutor outlined the two current arrest warrants that the ICC has issued for the two Sudanese government officials that are most responsible for the human rights atrocities committed in Darfur. The first arrest warrant, he explained, was for Ahmed Harun (the Minister of State for the Interior) who was the main coordinator for the mass killings, rapes and torturers of the Darfuri people. The second arrest warrant was for President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir for appointing Minister Harun (who coordinated the systematic destruction of the Darfuri people) and purposefully disrupting the aid operations that were stationed in Darfur.
Mr. Moreno-Ocampo made it clear to the Security Council that the information that was being used for these investigations was collected from various sources including the Sudanese government. The Prosecutor stated that although it might take months if not years to arrest President Bashir, previous arrest warrants have proven (Charles Taylor and Slobodan Milosevic) that he will eventually be brought to The Hague. During the second half of his briefing Luis Moreno-Ocampo explained to the Security Council that he would not open up any more investigations for the next six months but would instead continue to follow the crimes being committed in Darfur and working to help with the Doha peace process. The Prosecutor reported to the Security Council that he is looking to open up an investigation on the recruitment and use of child soldiers, warning that “there is a new generation of child soldiers in the making”.
Mr. Moreno-Ocampo ended his briefing by explaining the current situation in Darfur to the Security Council; “Youths are unable to move around. There is no education, there are no jobs. If girls go outside, they are raped. If boys go outside, they are killed or, in some locations, abducted to fight.” The briefing by Luis Moreno-Ocampo is a reminder that as the genocide in Darfur continues to rage on there are people, like Mr. Moreno-Ocampo, who are dedicated to ending impunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
-Frank Stiefel, Southeast College Regional Outreach Coordinator