November 30, 2023
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Blinken,
We, the undersigned organizations, write with deep concern about the ongoing and increasing atrocities in Sudan, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, and potentially genocide. We urge the United States to issue an atrocity determination for Sudan and take concrete actions to protect civilians and prevent further atrocities in line with the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act, the U.S. Strategy to Anticipate, Prevent, and Respond to Atrocities, the recently released U.S. Strategy and Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, and other U.S. prevention-oriented laws and policies.
Multiple independent reports and monitors, including the Sudan Conflict Observatory, have verified the use of targeted attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and schools, and widespread sexual and gender-based violence. In Darfur, many of the attacks on civilians and communities are occurring based on ethnicity and echo those of the genocide that began 20 years ago. Earlier this month, the Rapid Support Forces perpetrated one of the largest mass killings since the conflict began, leading to the death of over 1,300 Masalit in Ardamata. Yet, in June, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Center for the Prevention of Genocide warned about a dire risk of genocide in Darfur. Civil society, including the U.S. Prevention and Protection Working Group, the United Kingdom Civil Society Atrocity Prevention Working Group, and other atrocity prevention experts have been emphasizing these concerns for months and calling on the U.S. Government to make an atrocity determination for Sudan.
Over the last three decades, the atrocity determinations for Bosnia and Herzegovina (1993), Rwanda (1994), Iraq (1995, 2014), Darfur (2004), Burma (2021), China (2021), and Ethiopia (2023) sought to mobilize the international community. The public issuance of an atrocity determination is an important policy tool, which recognizes the scale and nature of abuses, puts current and would-be perpetrators on notice that the world is watching, and advances collective action from bilateral, regional, and multilateral policymakers. However, an atrocity determination must be coupled with a comprehensive and multisectoral strategy with robust policy, programmatic, and practical responses to protect civilians, prevent further abuses, and promote accountability. To address the situation in Sudan, the U.S. must issue an atrocity determination, as well as appoint and fully resource a special or presidential envoy, outline immediate civilian protection plans, extend and enforce an arms embargo throughout Sudan, identify a roadmap toward a sustainable cessation of hostilities, and promote an inclusive peace process that meaningfully engages women, youth, and other marginalized and impacted communities.
Furthermore, the U.S. must sanction perpetrators from all parties to the conflict and address the horrific scale of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) in line with the Presidential Memorandum on Promoting Accountability CRSV. Additionally, the U.S. must investigate, denounce, and sanction states, including the United Arab Emirates, and private entities providing the means to carry out atrocities. We also urge the U.S. Government to announce commitments to fund evidence collection and preservation, particularly by Sudanese civil society, and immediately scale-up support for the efforts of the Sudan Conflict Observatory, the United Nations independent international fact-finding mission for Sudan, the International Criminal Court, and any future credible domestic accountability mechanisms within Sudan.
To mitigate the current atrocities, the U.S., in concert with other bilateral and multilateral donors, must urgently increase humanitarian and protection assistance for the over 5 million internally displaced persons and other impacted communities, including through cross-border aid delivery and support for local frontline responders within Sudan. The U.S. must also continue to assist the 1.2 million refugees who have fled to neighboring countries since the conflict began.
Many of the horrors of the Darfur genocide of 20 years ago are being repeated again—perpetrated, to a large extent, by the same actors—and are spreading throughout the country. Today, however, the U.S. has laws, policies, and tools in place to promote accountability and stop further atrocities. Yet, the U.S. Government must use these laws, policies, and tools to effectively stem the violence and suffering in Sudan. We urge the U.S. Government to immediately issue an atrocity determination for Sudan and announce needed policy and program responses to save lives now.
Alliance for Peacebuilding
Asham Baker Center for Enlightenment and Development
AWAFY Sudanese Organization
Charity & Security Network (C&SN)
Church of the Brethren, Office of Peacebuilding and Policy
Crane Center for Mass Atrocity Prevention
Darfur and Beyond
Darfur Network for Human Rights
Darfur Women Action Group
Darfur Women Platform
The Duty Legacy
Educators’ Institute for Human Rights (EIHR)
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Fund for Peace
Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
International Centre for Eritrean Refugees and Asylum-Seekers (ICERAS)
International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)
Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention (I-GMAP)
Jewish World Watch
Justice Africa Sudan
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies
Never Again Coalition
No Business With Genocide
Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights
The Regional Centre for Training and Development of Civil Society
Rights for Peace
STAND: The Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities
The Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA)
Stop Genocide Now
Sudan Social Development Organization (SODO)
Sudanese American Public Affairs Association (SAPAA)
Truman Center for National Policy
University of Leeds, UK
Vital Voices Global Partnership
Women of Change Organization
Women’s Peace Network