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What are we going to do after March 4?

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What are we going to do after March 4?

Posted by Maggie Fick on March 5, 2009

What are we going to do after March 4?

Here in Washington and in many other capitals, governments are issuing public statements officially supporting the Bashir credible and strategic approach to peace and justice in Sudan?

As the International Crisis Group’s Nick Grono noted in an opinion-editorial yesterday, President Bashir’s new status as a wanted war criminal is not likely to compel him to step down from the presidency or turn himself over to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Meanwhile, the jury is still out on whether President Bashir will manage to maintain his grip on power and stay on top of the National Congress Party heap.

Sudanese political machinations aside, policymakers and government insiders should recognize that the U.S. and its partners now firmly have the upper hand on Sudan.

In any case, experts agree that the U.S. and other key actors must take advantage of the increased leverage that the arrest warrant affords them with Sudan:

  • “[The warrant] means he will be a fugitive, a man on a wanted poster held to be most responsible for the atrocities of Darfur,” — Human Rights Watch’s Richard Dicker told the New York Times today
  • And as John Prendergast told the Washington Times, the arrest warrant provides an “unprecedented opening for peace,” because Sudan’s murderous president is now forced to confront the message that Enough’s Executive Director John Norris asserted today: “If you kill, maim, and rape your own citizens, there will be a cost for your actions.”

So today, policymakers in Washington should be coordinating with their colleagues in capitals around the globe that wish to see holistic peace with justice and accountability in Sudan. The Obama administration should take these key steps now, put forth in an Enough Project press release yesterday and in this recent letter to President Obama:

  • Work with the U.N. Security Council to support targeted sanctions against those most responsible for violence in Sudan and imposing a comprehensive arms embargo against the Government of Sudan;
  • Make UNAMID effective with a robust force on the ground in Darfur with a competent lead nation and a clear command-and-control structure;    
  • Work closely with interested parties with leverage in Sudan and the region, especially China, the United Kingdom, France, and key African countries, to coordinate efforts on peace efforts, the protection of civilians, and accountability;
  • Counter continued violations by Sudan on the UN ban on offensive military flights in Darfur; and
  • Appoint a senior Special Envoy to not only address the situation in Darfur, but Sudan’s multiple conflicts and their regional dimensions.

An extensive review of the U.S. policy on Sudan is currently underway at the White House and the State Department. We hope that the new Obama team will put their heads together and figure out how best to achieve the above goals in the “post-warrant” world by effectively using the leverage afforded by the ICC’s warrant.

Photo: President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton look on as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice speaks