August 05, 2008
Wednesday Briefing: China, Russia, others, Arming Sudan May Violate Genocide Convention
NEW YORK— On Wednesday, August 6, at 11:00AM Eastern, two international law experts will brief reporters on how countries that continue to arm the Government of Sudan, including China and Russia, are now potentially violating international law. The International Criminal Court Prosecutor's recent decision to seek genocide charges against Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir puts countries on notice that genocide may be occurring in Darfur, thus triggering international legal obligations under the Genocide Convention. Betsy Apple, director of the Crimes Against Humanity Program at Human Rights First, and Jerry Fowler, president of the Save Darfur Coalition, will brief reporters regarding the legal ramifications of the 1948 Genocide Convention, which requires that when faced with a serious risk of genocide, countries take all measures within their power to prevent the atrocities. Apple and Fowler will discuss the details of a comprehensive new background paper, released today by Human Rights First, on the Genocide Convention and its application to the crisis in Darfur in light of the ICC's proceedings. Read the background paper here. WHAT: Media teleconference examining the international legal ramifications of the ICC's decision to pursue the prosecution of al-Bashir. WHO: Betsy Apple, director of the Crimes Against Humanity Program at Human Rights First and adjunct professor at Columbia University; Jerry Fowler, president of the Save Darfur Coalition and former professor of international law. WHEN: 11:00AM Eastern, Wednesday, August 6th DIAL-IN: Domestic: 1-800-895-0198 International: 785-424-1053 Conf ID : Genocide Convention BACKGROUND: The ICC Prosecutor's efforts to charge Sudan President Bashir with the crime of genocide puts the world's governments on notice that genocide may well be occurring in Darfur. By publicly invoking genocide, the Prosecutor has focused the legal context for governing responses to the crisis on the Genocide Convention. Under that treaty, States' are legally obligated to take all measures in their power to prevent and stop ongoing genocide. Countries such as China and Russia that arm Sudan and thus fuel the capacity of its government to sustain the alleged genocide campaign are bound by the Convention to take all possible action, including immediately suspending arms transfers. Sudan's supporters may also be obligated to cease other kinds of support to Khartoum, such as political cover, and use their political or other influence to try to prevent or stop the potential genocide in Darfur. The Prosecutor's request for an arrest warrant against President Bashir informs States of the credible risk of genocide in Darfur, and thus triggers their obligation to act to prevent it or ensure they are not complicit in committing it. Last Thursday, the court survived the first major challenge to its efforts to bring President Bashir to justice, when the UN Security Council successfully resisted significant pressure by China, Russia, and others to include language that would have suspended the ICC proceedings within a resolution to extend the mandate for the joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur. The Security Council, which has frequently been stymied in its ability to intervene to stop the crisis in Darfur by permanent members Russia and China, has the authority to suspend the ICC deliberations on this matter for a year at a time if they are judged to endanger the promotion of peace and security.