Sudan and the ICC

The Sudanese government makes a good case. Why should they be held accountable by the International Criminal Court (ICC), when America, one of the most prolific critics of Khartoum, has persistently refused to sign up to it. I had a long interview a little while back with Sudan’s deputy foreign minister, discussing this point.

Look at some of the stuff going on in Iraq, allogations of interrogation camps in Eastern Europe, suspected prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba – and tell me that you can be 100% certain that America has not carried out crimes against humanity, as defined by the UN Convention. But no one is seriously suggesting inditing George W.

Monday’s indictment of Omar Bashir for war crimes is all political, in any case. It is the third such indictment of a Sudanese official in the past 12 months – and by far the most unexpected. The ICC, of course, doesn’t have any real clout. All it can do is simply pronounce verdicts. It is then up to the UN’s Security Council to implement these decisions – a body that has shown noticeably little backbone when it comes to Sudan, most likely because of China’s influence.

Bashir’s indictment, which is never likely to go beyond more than words, is simply one more step along the road to finding a political solution to Sudan (as the West sees it). It is evidence of a breakdown in the political process, and the failure of Bashir to play ball.

Bashir was badly skahen by the recent rebel attack on Khartoum, and feels very threatened by the West’s persistent hostility to his government. The American-led international community might do well to remember Bashir’s obstreperousness in the 1990s and how much more pliable he seems these days. This latest action by the ICC isn’t going to do a great deal to improve the West’s relations with the country.

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