On the road again to drum up support for a comprehensive peace process in Sudan, U.S. Special Envoy Major General Scott Gration’s equivocations on the topic of justice was cause for more concern about the special envoy’s dealings with the regime in Khartoum. Speaking in Oslo, his first stop on a two-week trip, Gration said:
We in the United States believe that everybody needs to be accountable, and in due time, when the situation is right, the international community will hold (accountable) folks that may have been involved in crimes against humanity and genocide.
Those unfortunate clauses, “in due time, when the situation is right,” makes it seem like the justice component is far less of an imperative, which must come as welcome news to wanted war criminal President Bashir and the circle of allies protecting him. One would think the U.S. position was simple and clear: those wanted by the court should appear to defend themselves as soon as possible and responsible states should cooperate in getting such wanted individuals to face justice. For those in Darfur who have been victims of his crimes, the due time for Bashir to be held accountable is now. This does not preclude negotiations with the National Congress Party, but it certainly demands a much firmer line from the administration.
At least Gration didn’t stumble over the genocide classification this time. Here’s to hoping his boss has conclusively clarified the administration’s stance on that point.
Special Envoy Gration is in Europe to meet with senior Norwegian government officials and members of the Sudan Troika, which includes Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States to discuss implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the peace deal that ended the 22-year civil war between northern and southern Sudan but is spiraling toward collapse.
From Europe, Gration will travel to Sudan and make stops in Darfur to assess the conditions of the camps, Abyei for the announcement of the border demarcation decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, Juba to meet with the Government of South Sudan, and finally Khartoum, where he will follow up on the talks between the North, the South, and the United States that began during the CPA conference in Washington last month.
John Norris contributed to this post.