Saving the President

26 09 2008

THE UN Security Council is under pressure to suspend the International Criminal Court’s prosecution of Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, for alleged genocide and crimes against humanity, according to a report in the Economist magazine today.

Unsurprisingly, Mr Bashir does not like the charge at all, and nor do the rest of his peers in the 53-member African Union (AU) and the 56-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Both groups have demanded that the Security Council suspend proceedings against Mr Bashir. As the author of the article rightly points out several members of the AU abd OIC, “no doubt fearing that it could be their turn next”.

Further increasing the pressure on the ICC if it does indict Mr Bashir (a decision is expected in November), several AU and OIC members, who together account for a third of the ICC’s 108 states parties, have threatened to pull out of the court.

With an eye on Sudan, Ban Ki-moon, the UN’s secretary-general, recently declared that the search for a balance between peace and justice “should never be influenced by the threats and postures of those seeking to escape justice”.

There is a more than reasonable chance that charges will be dropped, or ‘postponed’ despite the overwhelming evidence against Bashir (an estimated 300,000 have already lost their lives and some 3m have been forced to flee their homes in the five-year conflict, continues to deteriorate). And, despite the fact that as early as September 2004 Secretary Powell officially invoked the term “genocide” to describe what was going on there in testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and  President Bush (white House Press Release, September 9, 2004).

Despite calling it a genocide the U.S. and the rest of the world have taken no effective action to date. This is Rwanda 2:0, and the killing not only continues, it is getting worse.

Why might charges be dropped despite the evidence? Corrupt politics of course. Of the Security Council’s five permanent members, three – China, Russia and the United States—refused to sign up to the court. Coincidentally Russia and China have huge financial interests in Sudan and are actively supporting the regime, and in-directly the genocide. I reported on this before – China is Fueling the War in Darfur.

As I have also said already, Darfur and Sudan show the ineffectiveness of the United nations. Now there is a more than reasonable chance that they will show how useless one of it’s key institutions, the International Criminal Court, actually is. This may make or break the future of the ICC and, the action of the permanent members in relation to Sudan and Darfur will be yet another test of the credibility of the United Nations itself.

Read the Economist Article