Saturday, December 27, 2008

The ICC and the US

I keep seeing editorials in respectable newspapers exhorting the US government to act to ensure that justice is not delayed in Darfur through a Security Council deferral of the arrest warrant for President Bashir.

A group of prominent Darfur experts wrote an open letter to Barrack Obama claiming that since Briton and France were negotiating with Sudan over the charges – trying to leverage major concessions in exchange for a deferral - the US must step into the moral vacuum and ensure that justice prevails, presumably in order to prevent dictators around the world from thinking they are immune to war cirmes charges.

Which would all sound a lot better if the US had not shied away from ratifying the Rome Statue creating the ICC for fear that its people would not be immune from war crimes charges.

Condilezza Rice has just outlined an expensive step by step plan for strengthening international justice mechanisms. But the single most meaningful gesture the US could carry out to strengthen the legitimacy of the charges against President Bashir and to raise the stakes of continued defiance of the law by the Sudanese government is to ratify the court's documents.

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