Friday, July 11, 2008

Darfur and the United Nations: Something's Happening

The International Criminal Court (ICC) may - or may not - issue a warrant for the arrest of Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. If that happens, it will be the first time that a head of state has been indicted by the ICC while in office.

The Darfur region of Sudan is a mess, and Sudan has been a prime example of weirdly Islamic bullying ("Sudan Defends Islam Against
Blasphemous Teddy Bear
" (November 28, 2007)).

I think that what the ICC is expected to do Monday makes sense, and is just.
  • This could be as big a change how global affairs work, as the Magna Carta was, in the way national governments work.
  • Or, it could be a flash in the pan, with little long-term significance.
  • Worse, it could be the start of trouble on a global scale: United Nations leaders, using the authority of the ICC and the power of 'peacekeepers,' to purge ideologically impure regimes from the world - or turn a profit, making the Oil for Food scandal look like stealing petty cash.
I'm no huge fan of the United Nations. My opinion is that the delegates and officials of the global body are just as human and prone to weakness as anyone else. And almost a half-century of United Nations squabbles has done nothing to change that opinion.

However, it's the closest thing we've got to a global legal authority that's competent to deal with situations like Darfur.

I think it's time to give the rule of law a test-run on the global stage.

In the news:
  • "Ambassador: Sudanese president may be charged with genocide"
    CNN (July 11, 2008)
  • "ICC prosecutor likely to name Sudan's Bashir-UN envoy"
    Reuters (July 11, 2008)
    • "UNITED NATIONS, July 11 (Reuters) - The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is likely to seek the arrest of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in a new war crimes case he will open on Darfur on Monday, a senior European envoy said on Friday.
    • "The prosecution said in a statement on Thursday Luis Moreno-Ocampo would submit to judges "evidence on crimes committed in the whole of Darfur over the last five years" and seek to charge an individual or individuals but gave no details.
    • "Sudan has said any such move could undermine the peace process in Darfur and aid officials fear a potential backlash. The Darfur investigation also could embarrass China, Sudan's close ally, just weeks before the start of the Beijing Olympics...."
    • "China has advised Sudan to cooperate with U.N. efforts to resolve the Darfur crisis but has faced Western criticism as Khartoum's biggest arms supplier and for not using its oil and investment stakes to press harder for an end to the conflict.
  • "Sudan condemns UN Darfur attack"
    BBC (July 10, 2008)
    • "...Sudan's foreign ministry condemned the attack, and urged Western governments to deal more firmly with Darfur rebels.
    • "UN officials have said they suspect the government-backed Janjaweed militia were responsible for the assault, which also left 22 troops wounded...."
  • "ICC to seek arrest of Sudan's Beshir: report"
    AFP (July 11, 2008)
    • "THE HAGUE (AFP) — Prosecutors on the International Criminal Court will seek an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir next week for genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur, reports said Friday.
    • "ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo will request the warrant on Monday in the first-ever bid before The Hague-based tribunal to charge a sitting head of state with war crimes, said the Washington Post, citing diplomats and UN officials...."
    • "UN officials in Sudan said the Janjaweed -- state-backed Arab militia -- were suspected of carrying out the attack, while Sudan's government blamed the attack on rebels in Darfur.
    • "According to the Washington Post, representatives of the UN Security Council's five permanent members -- China, Britain, the United States, France and Russia -- met UN officials Thursday on the safety of Darfur peacekeepers in the wake of the attack...."
    • "Beshir's regime has refused to allow the deployment of Nepalese, Scandinavian and Thai soldiers and remains reluctant about any non-African troops reinforcing the mission.
    • "In talks with UN Security Council ambassadors in Khartoum last month, after Moreno-Ocampo accused the Sudan state apparatus of war crimes in Darfur, Beshir slammed what he called a vicious campaign against his country.
    • "Sudan rejects the ICC's jurisdiction and refuses to surrender two war crimes suspects already named.
    • "NGO Human Rights Watch said the possibility of Beshir's arrest was 'very exciting'.
    • "If the rumours were true, 'for us this is what the institution was created for ... the fight against impunity' at the highest level, spokeswoman Geraldine Mattioli told journalists in The Hague...."

Update July 11, 2008
Another news link:
"Sudan Leader To Be Charged With Genocide"
Washington Post (July 11, 2008)
(Link provided by cooper in a comment on "Darfur - Heads Up!" (BlogCatalog discussion thread, started July 11, 2008)))

2 comments:

markstoneman said...

Interesting. And I'll have to take a look when I have a little more time. Seems to me, though, that we can't go after heads of states in this way as long as we recognize their governments as legitimate and major members of the international community (read: China) refuse to sanction them. This could easily be a legal problem further on down the road, but right now it is a political (and humanitarian) one.

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

markstoneman,

Thanks for stopping by.

About indicting heads of state: agreed! It's possible that it might be justified in this case, but I think that, as you said: "This could easily be a legal problem further on down the road...."

Interesting times, that we are live in.

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