Washington International Law Journal


As an emerging world power, China has a crucial need for oil to meet its growing fuel consumption. It has invested heavily in Sudan, a country with extensive and productive oil reserves. However, this partnership has an ugly side. Sudanese militia groups, as well as government troops, have been committing gross human rights violations against residents of the Darfur region. Meanwhile, Chinese arms manufacturers have continued to export weapons and military equipment to Sudan, with the full knowledge of the Chinese government. Many of the weapons used to raid villages in Darfur were manufactured in China. International norms have evolved to regulate the global arms trade. State usage of these norms and the general belief in their force both support the argument that these norms now qualify as customary international law. These potentially enforceable norms require that arms-trading nations implement and enforce strict export regulations on licenses for arms shipments, in order to keep those shipments from going to unstable destinations where there is a high risk that they will be used to perpetuate conflict or commit human rights abuses. China’s arms trade to Sudan violates this standard and is arguably a violation of international law. China is also violating international law by aiding and assisting the government of Sudan in the commission of crimes against humanity. Sudan is committing human rights abuses against civilians in Darfur, which is an internationally wrongful act, and China is complicit by indiscriminately providing the arms that are used in the attacks. China should make the necessary changes to its arms export practices and regulations to align them with international law, and should immediately halt further arms shipments to Sudan.

First Page