New York, Asharq Al-Awsat- Sources within the UN Secretariat have revealed that the relationship between United Nations [UN] Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and International Criminal Court [ICC] Prosecutor Luis Moerno-Ocampo is a turbulent one. A source close to the UN Secretary-General’s office who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity revealed that “it has reached a stage where neither can stand the other” and that relations began to deteriorate when Ocampo presented his memorandum to the ICC to issue an arrest warrant for President Al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
According to Western diplomatic sources, Ban Ki-Moon was aware of the consequences of prosecuting Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir as the UN has peace-keeping operations taking place in Southern Sudan to ensure the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between Northern and Southern Sudan, as well as peace-keeping operations in Darfur itself.
A number of sources confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Ban Ki-Moon sought to persuade the five permanent UN member-states to convince Ocampo against pursuing President Al-Bashir. Sources reveal that “the UN Secretary-General met with the ambassadors of the five permanent member-states- USA, UK, France Russia, and China- when the Prosecutor began gathering evidence against the Sudanese President.” The same sources also confirmed that “Bank Ki-Moon suggested that the individuals included in the list drawn up by UN Commission to investigate the crimes committed in Darfur [International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur] be prosecuted, rather than prosecuting President Al-Bashir.”
This Commission of independent experts dispatched by the Secretary-General [Kofi Annan] following a Security Council resolution [1564 of 18 September 2004] investigated crimes committed in Darfur, including whether such crimes could be classified as genocide. The Commission submitted a sealed list of 51 individuals accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The UN Commission also concluded that what was occurring in Darfur could not be classified as genocide.
The sources also revealed that France and Britain rejected the Secretary-General’s proposal [not to prosecute Al-Bashir] in their capacity as ICC members, and gave ICC Prosecutor Ocampo the green light to continue gathering evidence against President Al-Bashir.
According to diplomatic sources, as well as sources within the UN secretariat, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon – who inherited this crisis from his predecessor Kofi Annan- sought to find a diplomatic and political solution to the crisis in Darfur. Ban Ki-Moon was, and remains convinced of the importance of the involvement of the Sudanese government in any solution or operation undertaken by the UN, particularly with regards to Darfur.
Sources also spoke regarding the differences between the UN secretariat and the five permanent member-states on [the classification of] what is occurring in Darfur. The UN, with its presence on the ground, asserts that what is happing in Darfur cannot be described as genocide as the conflict is not one between racial, ethnic or religious groups on the ground of race or ethnicity, which is as international law defines the concept of genocide. The United Nations recognizes that this conflict has many causes, such as political and economic causes, as well as being influenced by the phenomenon of climate change, and the drought which has swept across Chad and Darfur.
It also appears that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is in an awkward position, as his attempt to block the issuance of an arrest warrant against Al-Bashir went against the decision taken by the UN Security Council which had already referred the Darfur case to the ICC. In his public statements, Ban Ki-Moon stressed that the ICC is independent from the UN, and that peace without justice cannot be sustainable.
Diplomatic sources also revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon met with Sudanese ambassador to the UN Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem prior to taking part in the Doha Summit. Sources revealed that he informed Ambassador Abdalhaleem of his intent to meet with Al-Bashir on the sidelines of the summit. According to the same source, the UN Legal Counsel advised the Secretary-General against this meeting in order to avoid any political repercussions. Ban Ki-Moon faced criticism for participating in the Arab Summit as Al-Bashir was also present.