Leiden Journal of International Law


Sudan, Resolution 1593, and International Criminal Justice


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The UN Security Council has recently referred the situation in Darfur, Sudan, to the International Criminal Court. This has been hailed as a breakthrough in international criminal justice. However, aspects of the referral resolution can be criticized from the point of view of their consistency with both the Rome Statute and the UN Charter. The limitations of the referral with respect to whom the Court may investigate also raise issues with respect to the rule of law. In addition, Sudan has accused the Security Council of acting in a neo-colonial fashion by referring the situation in Darfur to the Court. This article investigates these criticisms against the background of the international system in which international criminal law operates, and concludes that although the referral cannot be considered neo-colonial in nature, the referral can be criticized as selective and as an incomplete reaction to the crisis in Darfur. The referral remains, however, a positive step.

(Published Online April 18 2006)

Key Words: International Criminal Court; rule of law; Security Council; Sudan.


1 School of Law, University of Nottingham. This article began life as a paper given to the Human Rights Research Unit, University of Leeds. I am very grateful to Ian Cram for his invitation to give a paper there, and to the participants for the enlightening discussion. Thanks are owed to David Fraser, Håkan Friman, Robert McCorquodale, Dirk van Zyl Smit, and Nigel White for their comments, and to Sangeeta Shah for her comments and expert editing.