On the 11th of May 2023, the UN Human Rights Council convened for a Special Session discussing “the human rights impact of the ongoing conflict in the Sudan" [1].
This Special Session was a joint request by the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Norway and Germany. 
The Human Rights Council can "hold Special Sessions, when needed, at the request of a member of the Council with the support of one third of the membership of the Council’ (i.e. 16 member States or more) [2]

The discussion on the situation in Sudan revolved around the interventions of member States, observer States and Civil Society Organisations (CSO). Then, the member States of the council voted on the resolution drafted by the core group mentioned above.

The results were 18 votes in its favour, 14 abstentions and 15 votes against.

Most countries against were the African and Arab Groups as they echoed Sudan’s views. They denounced the convening of the Special Session, without their consent and only three weeks before the discussion on the Sudan at the 53rd Session of the Human Rights Council. These countries also argued that Sudan has the right to defend its sovereignty and independence and to deal with its own internal affairs. They also said that the ongoing issues in the Sudan is an internal African affair that can be solved within the continent.

The speakers emphasised the need to not interfere with the regional peace talks that have already been initiated in Jedda, Saudi Arabia. Hence, some states fear that the resolution adopted will negatively impact the peace process.

On this occasion, GICJ delivered 3 joint oral statements with EAFORD, Meezaan and Ma’onah, calling the international community for a ceasefire, protection of civilians and humanitarian assistance.

In the first joint oral statement with EAFORD, GICJ insisted on the urgent need of humanitarian assistance for the population. We recalled the alarming testimonies on the ground of people victims of violations, forcibly displaced from their homes, and health facilities being targeted and looted. The UN has recorded more than 15.8 Million people displaced before the spark of violence that broke out in mid-April 2023. Since then, the last few weeks have seen tens of thousands leaving their homes, fearing for their life as fightings take place in urban areas.
Both organisations urged the belligerents and the HRC’s Member States to ensure humanitarian access and abide by humanitarian law, especially not to target civilians and civilian facilities.

In the second joint oral statement with Association Ma’onah, GICJ highlighted that the situation in Sudan is only one example of the rise of militia and paramilitary groups in the region. 

Worrying situations in which powerful militias compete for and share power with the military, have already been observed in other countries such as Yemen and Iraq. 

We reiterate our stance, calling for the respect of the rule of law and the independence of national institutions. We call for the cessation of hostilities and the conduct of a concrete peace process.

In the third joint statement, GICJ and Meezaan center for Human Rights called for the international community to double its efforts to address the increasing humanitarian situation in Sudan, which will, according to the UNHCR, lead to a massive exodus.

We further strongly condemn the lack of access to humanitarian aid to civilians within Sudan. We implore all parties to open a humanitarian corridor and allow humanitarian aid institutions to conduct their work and for them to do so in a safe and timely manner.

Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ) stands with the population of Sudan and emphasises the urgent need for unhindered access of humanitarian stakeholders to the Sudanese territory. Civilians are deeply suffering from the situation and should be the primary consideration during the peace process. GICJ delivered three joint statements at the special session urging an end to the conflict peacefully and restore peace and stability in the Sudan and to protect the Sudanese people from all types of human rights violations.

Sudan, 36th Special Session, armed conflict, Human Rights Council, Geneva International Centre for Justice

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