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UN General Debate Statements with ICC References
26 Sept 2008
UNGA: Mentions of the ICC in Official Statements, Excerpts of Speeches
Please find below a message related to the General Debate of the UN General
Assembly that is being held at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
In this digest you will find mentions of the ICC in official statements at the
GA, including the excerpts of the speech by the Sudanese Vice President Ali
Osman Mohamed Taha; media coverage of the debate and the eventual impact of an
Article 16 deferral of the ICC investigation in Darfur; and blogs, among other
For further information on the situation in Darfur visit:
For further information on the 63rd Session of the General Assembly, visit:
Please take note of the Coalition's policy on situations before the ICC (below),
which explicitly states that the CICC will not take a position on potential and
current situations before the Court or situations under analysis. The Coalition,
however, will continue to provide the most up-to-date information about the ICC.
A. OFFICIAL STATEMENTS MENTIONING THE ICC AT THE 63rd UNGA
i. The Netherlands, speech by H.E. Mr. Jan Peter Balkenende, Prime Minister and
Minister for General Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, 25 September
"Millions of people still live in conflict. UN efforts to ensure peace must
continue. Conflict situations often require a political solution.
'In our world, no one is above the law, and no one is beneath it. The
Netherlands is proud to host the legal capital of the world in the city of The
Hague. We will continue to strive for an International Criminal Court that is
supported by all UN member states. In a safe world, right is stronger than
might. Crimes that outrage world opinion must always be punished. The
International Criminal Court is there to support us in that task. And we must
support the Court. All of us. Openly. Unconditionally...."
ii. Sudan, speech by H.E. Mr. Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, Vice-President of the
Republic of the Sudan, 25 September 2008
"And at a time when the country is fully mobilized and ready and engaged in
turning over the page of violence and war in Darfur, at this time, amidst such
developments came the request of the Prosecutor General of the ICC to the PTC to
issue an arrest warrant. An arrest warrant against whom? Against a man who ended
the longest war in Africa, a man who brought peace to eastern Sudan and laid
down the basis of peace for Darfur. This request targets the leadership of the
state, the symbol of sovereignty and dignity, in a failed attempt of political
and moral assassination and to delay or erode the peace process for ulterior
motives that are not related to the realization of peace and stability in
Darfur. And in a state which is not a member of the Rome Statute. Moreover, the
actions of the Prosecutor General disregard, and indeed violate, the roadmap
agreed upon between the Sudan and the UN and all through the Addis Ababa
understanding, as was [insisted] by the International Conference on Darfur which
was held along side the last session UNGA and which was an affair which was
further reiterated and endorsed by the UN SC resolution 1769. A roadmap based on
Thus injecting the issue of accountability and which the Government of Sudan
supports and which is already being handled by a competent and efficient
Sudanese judiciary; injecting this [show] within the ICC, understand things
upside down and gives them a totally different complexion [destabilize] peace
and stability in Sudan. And it is an open invitation to the rebel movements that
are against peace, to keep away, and remain away from the option of peace. The
movement of the Prosecutor General seeks to negatively influence the elections
due to be held in 2009 and through which the Government will move into a new
phase of peace and democratic transformation. From this forum, and in the name
of the Government and the people of Sudan who are unanimous on rejecting this
step, thank and commend all the lively forces that are 2/3rds of the
international community and which have expressed through their regional
geographic and political institutions and organizations have condemned the
measures taken by the Prosecutor General of the ICC and call on the Security
Council to correct the situations emanating from that movement. I wish here to
refer specifically to the member states of the AU, the League of Arab States,
the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, and the
member states of the African, Caribbean and Pacific, and other countries who
have expressed their total rejection of that step taken by the Prosecutor
General of the ICC. I would like to assure you that the Government of Sudan is
moving along in its determined and principled objective to realize peace and to
remove the bitterness of war and in consonance with the values and principles of
the people of the Sudan and its traditions which are based on peaceful
coexistence, reconciliation, and tolerance. The realization of peace in Darfur
and in Sudan, and the steps by the Prosecutor General of the ICC are two
parallel lines that can never meet, hence such situations must be corrected as
soon as possible and to return to the commitment to the political process."
Note: informal transcription by CICC Secretariat. To see UN video access to:
iii. Austria, speech by H. E. Ms. Ursula Plassnik, Federal Minister for European
and International Affairs, 26 September 2008
"... 3. A just and effective international order needs to be based on rules
equally applicable to every member, big or small, strong or weak. Respect for
the Rule of Law is indispensable if we want to prevent conflicts and promote
peace and sustainable development. Austria has therefore consistently promoted
efforts to develop international relations based on the principles of the UN
Charter and all the other instruments that form our international legal
6. One of the basic threats to the rule of law is impunity. Today,
international criminal justice, as provided by the ICC as well as by the special
tribunals established by the Security Council, has become a major tool for
bringing to justice those responsible for war crimes and crimes against
humanity. Nowadays, some speak about the 'peace - justice dilemma.' I remain
convinced that peace and justice are complementary objectives, both equally
essential: There can be no lasting peace without justice, and international
justice will serve its purpose most effectively if it helps societies advance
reconciliation and overcome the wounds of the past. As the often most
vulnerable in our societies, women and children deserve our special attention in
iv. Malta, speech delivered by H.E. Mr. Lawrence Gonzi, Prime Minister of the
Republic of Malta, 26 September 2008
"Human security and the dignity of every man and woman require us to continue
the discussion in order to build consensus on the principle of the
responsibility to protect, particularly in relation to genocide, war crimes,
ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, as agreed by the 2005 World
Summit. While we realise the sensitivity of the issue, Malta agrees with the
Secretary-General that we need to move from declarations of commitment to
practice and implementation. [...]
Malta, as a State Party to the International Criminal Court, believes that the
work carried out so far by the Court is commendable and merits our continued
cooperation and commitment towards the maintenance of international peace and
II. MEDIA COVERAGE OF GA
i. "Sudan dismisses Bashir indictment push," Reuters (via Yahoo), 26 September
"Sudan's vice president on Thursday dismissed a possible war crimes indictment
of the largest African country's president as a nefarious plan that is intended
to derail the fragile Darfur peace process.
'The arrest request targeting the country's leader, symbol of its sovereignty
and dignity, is a failed attempt at political and moral assassination and
derailing the peace process,' Ali Osman Mohamed Taha told the U.N. General
.... The move by the ICC prosecutor, Taha said, has a 'secret agenda that has
nothing to do with justice and achieving peace and stability in Darfur.'
... In his U.N. speech, Taha said that the Khartoum government was committed to
the Darfur peace process..."
ii. "Taha Presents Sudan's Address before UN General Assembly Today amid
Positive Results Expectations," Sudanese Media Center, 25 September 2008,
"Vice President of the Republic Ali Osman Mohammed Taha will today present
Sudan's speech before members of the UN General Assembly. Sudan's envoy to the
UN, Ambassador Abdulmahmoud Abdulhalim, said the address will be comprehensive
and will reflect conditions and progress of peace and stability in the country.
..... Abdulhalim expected the meeting to come out with wide support for Sudan
and stressed that Sudanese diplomacy intends to exert the required pressure for
the Security Council to redress the situation and block the application of the
ICC prosecutor general.
'We are not talking here of suspending or postponing the request but rather its
total cancellation,' Abdulhalim said, adding that these diplomatic moves are
aimed at projecting Sudan's viewpoint on the various international issues now
being discussed by the UN..."
iii."Bashir's indictment would overthrow Darfur peace process - Taha," Sudan
26 September 2008,
"Sudan's Vice President Ali Osman Taha has urged the United Nations to defer the
prosecution of President Omer Al-Bashir on charges of Darfur crimes saying it
could bring down efforts for peace.
.... Yesterday the U.S. Special envoy to Sudan said the United States will veto
any UN Security Council resolution that defers the ICC indictment of S President
'If asked-if forced to vote today-the United States, even if it was 191
countries against one, would veto an Article 16 [resolution],' Ambassador
Richard Williamson said at a hearing of the US Commission on International
Religious Freedom, on Wednesday...."
iv. "Britain, France Bargain with Bashir Immunity," by Sarah Benczik
(Impunity Watch), 25 September 2008,
"British representatives to the UN General Assembly this week set off a
firestorm of debate when they announced Britain would back immunity for Omar
al-Bashir. British officials hope to exchange immunity from his indictment for
war crimes and genocide in Darfur for cessation of fighting in the region, entry
of UN forces, and the return of two million refugees.
.....Following the British, French President Sarkozy also called on the Sudanese
government to end the violence, and announced that if Khartoum authorities
'completely change their policy,' France would back the suspension by the UN
Security Council of indictments handed down against Sudanese leaders by the
International Criminal Court.
The UN Security Council has the ability to suspend ICC proceedings, and both
Russia and China currently back suspension of the Bashir's indictment. Both the
African Union (AU) and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) have
also put pressure on the UN Security Council to suspend the proceedings...."
III. ICC PROSECUTOR AT THE UN AND PRESS BRIEFING BY ORGANIZATION OF THE ISLAMIC
i. "Sudanese genocide case should proceed: prosecutor,"AFP (via Google), 25
"International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo is resisting
attempts by European and African powers to back off a genocide case against
Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir. Moreno-Ocampo, at the United Nations General
Assembly to press his message, told AFP that politics and the mission of the ICC
should not mix.
.... Moreno-Ocampo, in an interview with AFP on Wednesday, said politicians
'have a responsibility to find solutions.' ...'I have a judicial
responsibility,' he added. He met with skeptics of the prosecution case,
including representatives of Qatar, the African Union and the Arab League.
'They invited me to brief them on the legal decision and I explained my mandate
to them,' he said....
.... Moreno-Ocampo said he briefly met with French Foreign Minister Bernard
Kouchner on Wednesday, but not for long enough to do more than 'say hello. We
didn't have time to talk.' Kouchner, meanwhile, says he had assured
Moreno-Ocampo that France 'supports international justice.'"
ii. "Press Conference by Head of Organization of Islamic Conference," UN News,
26 September 2008,
".... The food security crisis and Islamophobia were the two hot-button items on
the agenda of the annual meetings of the 57-member Organization of the Islamic
Conference (OIC), under way on the sidelines of the General Assembly session,
the organization's Secretary-General, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, said this morning at
a Headquarters press conference.
..... In the Sudan, the International Criminal Court should strive towards a
balance between the notion of justice and security without sacrificing one for
the other. The OIC had been seized of the matter since 4 August and had called
upon the Sudanese Government to recommit to the peace process in Darfur. The
international community had been called upon to put pressure on the two factions
that had not signed the Abuja agreement to do so.
In Darfur, he said, progress should proceed on the political, humanitarian
and regional reconstruction fronts. The OIC was ready to dispatch a high-level
fact-finding mission to engage all actors in dialogue and to develop a targeted
assistance mechanism. It would also assist in humanitarian relief. Saudi
Arabia would host a 2009 pledging conference for Darfur's reconstruction.
Asked to confirm that the OIC would like the Security Council to suspend the
International Criminal Court indictment against Sudanese President Omer
al-Bashir, he said it was important to be prudent in the situation before going
forward. Negotiation must be given more of a chance. The Sudanese Government
must be given the opportunity to take more actions in the right direction before
the international community headed down a regrettable or irreversible path...."
IV. BLOGS AND OPINION
i. "Justice Deferred is Justice Denied," by Fr. Shay Cullen, 25 September 2008,
"Thousands of villagers in Darfur have been shot, bombed, burned, raped and
reduced to starvation by the attacks of the Chinese supplied army and militia
forces of the Sudanese government. These are acts of genocide and crimes against
humanity. Two million people or more have been driven from their lands and
homes, and reduced to extreme poverty. Hundreds of thousands have died.
.... Ever since the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno -
Ocampo announced that he had indicted the Sudanese President Omer Hassan
Al-Bashir and had an arrest warrant issued for him his supporters have been
lobbying at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) defer the court
proceedings. This indictment of Al-Bashir, the first ever of a sitting head of
state, is truly historical.
.... The success in bringing these suspects to trial is a dire warning to all
other torturers and even to sitting heads of states, that they can be
investigated and brought to trial in The Hague. However Al-Bashir has powerful
backers who ignore his crimes in exchange for money and oil. Some Arab and
African states are demanding that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)
defer the court proceedings against Al-Bashir.
To do so would be a grave mistake and a serious set back for world justice....
Article 16 of the UN charter setting up the ICC allows a deferment in rare and
unusual circumstances, but only when deferment would advance Justice not delay
it. To defer a trial for political expediency would be an interference in the
court, a denial of justice and a negative and bad signal to the killers,
tyrants, people butchers and dictators that commit genocide and crimes against
humanity. This International Court is the greatest hope for the poor and the
oppressed since the universal declaration of human rights.
.... The evidence against Al-Bashir and his accomplices is damning; mass rape as
an instrument of genocide, aerial bombing of helpless villages, hunger and
starvation as a weapon of ethnic cleansing. It is grossly immoral for any nation
to support a deferment of justice for empty and insincere promises to make
peace. Such would be a first step to dropping the charges all together later and
let him and his gang go free. Complicity in any effort to delay justice is to
deny it to the victims. It looks like these nations are going to trade human
lives for a pay off. Shame on them all. .."
ii. "Saving the president," The Economist, 25 September 2008,
"....Under Article 16 of the [International Criminal C]ourt's statute, inserted
at the insistence of the Security Council's five permanent members (three of
whom-China, Russia and the United States-refused to sign up to the court), the
council has the power to suspend ICC proceedings at any time for a period of up
to 12 months (infinitely renewable) without needing to provide any
justification; it is assumed that such a move would be taken only in the
interests of peace and security.
In the five years since the ICC has been operating, Article 16 has never been
invoked. But then the court has never before sought to indict a serving head of
state. (Slobodan Milosevic, Serbia's late president, and Charles Taylor,
Liberia's former one, were both tried by other ad hoc war-crimes tribunals.) Nor
has the ICC ever before sought to bring a charge of genocide, the gravest of
Unsurprisingly, Mr Bashir does not like the charge at all, and nor do the rest
of his peers in the 53-member African Union (AU) and the 56-member Organisation
of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Both groups have demanded that the Security
Council suspend proceedings against Mr Bashir, quite a few of their members no
doubt fearing that it could be their turn next.
In July, South Africa and Libya, both current members of the Security Council,
tried, with backing from China and Russia, both veto-wielding permanent members,
to tag an amendment to that effect onto a Security Council resolution renewing
the hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping force in Darfur. It failed, for want of support.
But since then, two other permanent members, Britain and France, seem to have
been persuaded to back a deferral, though only on certain tough conditions.
As a quid pro quo, Mr Bashir would have to agree, at a minimum, to stop all
attacks by his forces on civilians and aid workers in Darfur; hand over the two
men already indicted by the court, Ahmad Harun, Sudan's humanitarian affairs
minister, and Ali Kushayb, a leader of the government-backed janjaweed militia;
and facilitate the deployment of peacekeepers in the region. Secret ministerial
discussions are continuing in various capitals.
But the Sudanese president sounds increasingly defiant....
Further increasing the pressure on the ICC if it does indict Mr Bashir (a
decision is expected in November), several AU and OIC members, who together
account for a third of the ICC's 108 states parties, have threatened to pull out
of the court. ..."
iii. "Justice the price paid for peace? It wouldn't be the first time," by Chris
Stephen, The Scotsman, 25 September 2008,
"Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, and David Milliband, the Foreign Secretary,
have flown into a human rights firestorm at the United Nations this week after
offering Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, immunity for genocide in Darfur.
Rights groups fear, correctly, that such a get-out-of-jail-free card could sound
the death knell for international justice because it will undermine its
Mr Brown's argument is simple: Sudan's president may have blood on his hands
after orchestrating one of the most violent campaigns of ethnic cleansing of
recent times, but he is also the man standing in the way of peace.
.... Now London wants to use this indictment as leverage, dropping the charge if
Bashir will stop the fighting, let a UN force deploy and allow two million
refugees to return home.
The logic is clear: horrible things have certainly happened, but that is in the
past and a trial will not bring back the dead. On the other hand, a war crimes
indictment could prolong the fighting, causing yet more suffering. This
argument, peace versus justice, is the Achilles' heel of the war crimes movement
because it pits practical politics against idealism.
In the case of Darfur, the Foreign Office says there is no other option, with
China blocking attempts to impose sanctions on Sudan and no end to the fighting
Britain is not alone in its thinking. China and Russia have already called for
the same thing and so, this week, did France.
..... But human rights groups are horrified. They point out that, in the first
place, it was at London's behest that Bashir is facing indictment. Until 2005,
the ICC had no power to investigate crimes in Darfur. Then, in April of that
year, Britain led the charge in the UN to confer upon it that power.
..... And if Bashir gets immunity, rights groups fear other warlords will want