Ensure Gender Diversity and Feminist Representation in the Fact-Finding Mission on the War in Sudan

Ensure Gender Diversity and Feminist Representation in the Fact-Finding Mission on the War in Sudan

Joint Statement

8 November 2023

The undersigned organizations  welcome the establishment of a fact-finding mission (FFM) via the adoption of Resolution 54/2 “Responding to the human rights and humanitarian crisis caused by the ongoing armed conflict in the Sudan” at the 54th session of the UN Human Rights Council on 11 October 2023. The FFM will investigate the various and atrocious war crimes committed since the war erupted on 15 April 2023 between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF), leading to serious violations and abuses of the rights of Sudanese men, women and children. The FFM is mandated  to “investigate and establish the facts, circumstances and root causes of all alleged human rights violations and abuses and violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) including those committed against refugees”. The FFM is further mandated to collect, analyze and preserve evidence, identify those responsible, and make recommendations in particular on accountability. The undersigned organizations also reiterate the necessity to appoint the three experts of the FFM as soon as possible and as a matter of priority, and take the measures necessary to ensure gender diversity and feminist representation and expertise in its formation. This is a crucial prerequisite to investigate the crimes of GBV since the start of the war, including rape, kidnapping and sexual slavery.

According to the joint OHCHR-UNITAMS (the UN assistance mission) office in Sudan, on 2 November 2023, and in Darfur alone in the recent escalation of fighting between the warring parties, “more than 50 incidents of sexual violence have been reported… impacting at least 105 victims – 86 women, one man and 18 children, (where) twenty-three of the incidents involved rape, 26 were of gang rape and three were of attempted rape…(and) at least 70 percent of the confirmed incidents of sexual violence recorded – 37 incidents in total – are attributed to men in RSF uniforms, eight to armed men affiliated with the RSF, two to men in unidentified uniform, and one to the SAF”. Moreover, other crimes committed in this war are also disproportionately affecting women, where the lack of health care services, including sexual and reproductive health, resulted in the death of women while giving birth and the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases after being raped. Additionally, Sudanese women refugees on the borders of neighboring countries face immense difficulties, including lack of hygiene services such as menstruation pads, and  spread of epidemics including cholera and malaria which resulted in the death of WHRD R’oya Hassan, a member of WHRDMENA. According to a report released by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), “insecurity, displacement, limited access to medicines, medical supplies, electricity, and water continue to pose enormous challenges to delivering health care across the country. Furthermore, on 26 October 2023, Bahja Abduallah, a WHRD from south Darfur was killed by a bullet from an unknown source while conducting a visit to a displacement camp in Nyala city. Also, women physicians and volunteers within local groups face increasing violence and are targeted for their documentation of human rights abuses.

The FFM  has an enormous and important mission to carry out, to ensure accountability for the international  crimes committed in the war in Sudan until now. The undersigned organizations:

  • Call on the HRC President to ensure  gender diversity and feminist representation in the appointment of members of the FFM, so as to ensure accountability and provide practical and crucial recommendations to be taken to guarantee the provision of emergency support and services to women and WHRDs in Sudan.
  • Call on the FFM to prioritize gender justice and inclusion of women, and WHRDs.
  • Call on the FFM to  build strong collaboration, and engagement with Sudanese women’s rights groups and WHRDs on a regular basis to closely monitor the situation on the ground on a continual basis.

Signatories (in alphabetical order):

  1. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
  2. Nora Center for Combating Sexual Violence (NORA)
  3. Sudanese Women’s Rights Action (SUWRA)
  4. The Regional Coalition for Women Human Rights Defenders in South West Asia and North Africa (also known as WHRDMENA)
  5. Sudan Doctors for human rights
  6. Governance Programming Overseas
  7. Coalition of Darfur WHRDs
  8. The Women Guardians Organization
  9. Almostagbal for Enlightenment and Development Organization