The two main rebel groups in the western Darfur region welcomed the resolution, however, and said they would send any of their members accused of crimes to the court.
The U.N. Security Council late Thursday voted 11-0 with four abstentions to refer a sealed list of 51 people accused of crimes against humanity in Darfur to the ICC, after last-minute legal wrangling to allow exemptions for U.S. citizens, according to Reuters.
It was the first time the council has referred a case to the ICC and the third resolution the council has passed aiming to put pressure on the Sudanese government to stop the slaughter in Darfur. The number of dead from a conflict between government-backed militias and rebels in Darfur is now estimated at 180,000, reported the Associated Press.
One of the resolutions strengthens the arms embargo and imposes an asset freeze and travel ban on those who defy peace efforts. The other will send 10,000 U.N. peacekeepers to monitor a peace deal between the government and southern rebels that ended a 21-year civil war.
The third resolution referring the war crimes cases to the international court met with opposition from the Bush administration, which wanted the cases handled by an African court, but that proposal had little support among the 14 other Security Council nations, according to the AP.
The four abstentions during the vote were from Algeria, Brazil, China and the United States.
The resolution refers Darfur cases since July 1, 2002 to the ICC, which was a recommendation of a U.N. panel that determined in January that crimes against humanity — but not genocide — occurred in the western region of Sudan.
Human rights groups were pleased with the passage of the resolution.
“It’s a historic step,” said Richard Dicker, director of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch based in New York. “The council is providing protection for the people of Darfur through criminal prosecution and validating the role of the ICC.”