International Law
22 March 2018

Andrew Clapham: international community must act on South Sudan

Professor Andrew Clapham has highlighted the need to prosecute perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity in South Sudan, following the publication of the report by the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan.  

Speaking at the interactive dialogue on the report and the conference room paper at  the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 13 March, Prof Clapham, a member of the UN Commission, said the Commission “has identified crimes under South Sudanese laws, war crimes, particularly rape and pillage, and crimes against humanity, particularly rape and persecution on ethnic grounds.”

“When I met the victims of those crimes in South Sudan and in refugee camps in Ethiopia, the men, women and children I met were clearly traumatized and desperate for a return to normality. They asked us several times why the international community was not acting.”

“I hope this Council can send a message not just to them, but to every armed man and their commanders, that they should consider the consequences of what they do, and what they know, and what they fail to prevent or punish.”

Prof Clapham said immediate priorities should be for the Government of South Sudan and the African Union to establish a “Hybrid Court” to try those responsible  for these crimes, and for the international community to continue providing humanitarian assistance, notably in setting up an interim Victims’ Fund.

The HRC established the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan in 2016 to monitor and report on the human rights situation and to make recommendations on transitional justice and accountability and expanded the mandate in 2017 to ‘clarify responsibility for alleged gross violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes, including sexual and gender-based violence and ethnic violence, with a view to ending impunity and providing accountability’. You can watch a recording of the 13 March session below.