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June 06, 2005

Darfur's day in court
Posted by Suzanne Nossel

Today the International Criminal Court officially opened its investigation into war crimes in Darfur.   This was made possible by the U.S.'s historic decision to abstain in a UN vote referring the Darfur killings and abuses to the tribunal.  Now the question is whether the U.S. will cooperate with the ICC prosecutors in helping them build the case, or give succor to the Khartoum government which is trying to argue that the Court's involvement will undercut a "peace process" now underway.  The Sudanese government also claims to be assembling its own local tribunals, an effort to push the ICC to the sidelines.

The U.S.'s abstention on the ICC referral was the camel's nose under the tent of an admission that as the world's most powerful democracy and best champion for the rule of law, the U.S. cannot afford to stand outside an international criminal court that's gradually building credibility.  The court's not perfect, but ignoring it and hoping it will go away isn't the solution.  Working with its members to remedy U.S. concerns is.  Cooperation with the Darfur prosecution is a next step that the Administration can quietly take, consistent with its stance that what's happening in Darfur constitutes genocide.   Let's hope Bush keeps moving forward on this.

For measures short of sending in U.S. combat troops to help stop the killings in Darfur read here (no, I don't believe and ICC investigation will do much to halt the slaughter and abuses).

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Suzanne Nossel observes that the ICC's investigation of war crimes in Darfur began today. The ICC has its flaws, but the victims of what the Administration has forthrightly called a genocide deserve for us to hope the prosecutions are successful.... [Read More]

Comments

The ICC is a joke. Please tell me the lives it saved in Darfur or anywhere else? Even fully ten years AFTER Srebenica and other horrific acts in EUROPE it can't even frickin CONVICT Milosevic, much less hang him the way he should. Ratko Miladec isn't even in custody (and likely never will be).

As usual, the ICC and the other Euroweenie ideas that evil men with guns killing people can be stopped by talking, lawyers, and the idea that life operates in hellholes the way it does in Brussells.

This just isn't going to work. We need actual military intervention by a European or American power to stop the killing (you know all you need to know when Thabo Mbeki won't call it genocide).

The U.S.'s abstention on the ICC referral was the camel's nose under the tent of an admission that as the world's most powerful democracy and best champion for the rule of law, the U.S. cannot afford to stand outside an international criminal court that's gradually building credibility.

-----

Nonsense.

If anything, it was an admission that the ICC cannot function without the US's assent- the ICC needs the US, not the other way around.

From the US's pov, having the Darfur mess dumped in the ICC's lap means the US will have something to point at when the humanitarian crowd cries 'do something!'.

Even as a Euroweenie, I agree with Jim Rockford. I never understood the idea that the ICC could stop what is going on in Darfur. I have never understood how HRW and other human rights institutions could lobby for this way. As far as I know, it was Paris who used Darfur for a dirty game - it offered to Washington the alternative: either you accept the ICC or we will blame you for passivity on Darfur. I guess Stephen Krasner (Stanford) is right: "I think the ICC, in which you want to apply universal legal rules to a wide variety of situations which require, in my judgment, prudential political thought, is a tremendous error, something that's irresponsible and something that will actually get people killed."

I don't know why anyone thinks any court will prevent or stop killing on the ground. That's not the ICC's purpose any more than it's the U.S. Supreme Court's purpose. A court's purpose is to determine the rightful application of the rule of law and provide for penalties for those who break those laws. A judicial mechanism trying to function without its corresponding executive or legislative mechanisms is the real dilemma.

As far as the current administration goes–don't hold your breath waiting for it to do anything that would strengthen any international mechanisms for securing human rights or anything else that's not in the trade interests of our largest corporations. That abstention on the ICC vote was just a bone thrown to the religious right's interests in addressing the Darfur crisis.

". A judicial mechanism trying to function without its corresponding executive or legislative mechanisms is the real dilemma."
That's the point. The ICC only makes sense as part of a global state. As there will be no global state, there should be no ICC. Today the ICC is used as an excuse for inaction. That mechanism doesn't makes the world better. To the contrary, it makes the world worse. It gives cheap excuses to the governments.

Even theoretically the ICC could not do anything productive unless Sudan were willing to hand over people accused of crimes related to genocide to its jurisdiction. It is not, it has the full support of other Arab governments in this regard, and to my knowledge none of the commentators on this subject have suggested any workable ideas to change Sudan's position.

But the ICC is important to Europeans who are well represented at seminars and symposia on international law, so I guess it's a big deal even if it doesn't accomplish anything.

"the ICC could not do anything productive unless Sudan were willing to hand over people accused of crimes related to genocide to its jurisdiction"

-The alternative US proposition has the same problem.

"Ratko Miladec isn't even in custody"

-Under the alternative US proposition, Ratko Mladic would have already waited out the ad hoc tribunal and could stop hiding. He can't wait out the ICC.

"Please tell me the lives (the ICC) saved in Darfur or anywhere else?"

-US courts wait until after the fact too.

Suzanne Nossel should be forgiven her delusional moment with "Let's hope Bush keeps moving forward on this". The US did not vote against sending it to the ICC because on a practical level it would have supported Sudan, period. One can be extremely certain there is zero chance that "Bush keeps moving forward..."; furthermore, "working with it's members" is not a solution if one is fundamentally against the ICC.

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