The arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir, the President of Sudan, for alleged crimes committed in Darfur, thrust the International Criminal Court (ICC) onto the world stage. Though he is now a fugitive from justice, Sudan said it will not surrender al-Bashir. In early July of 2009, African Union (AU) leaders issued a resolution declaring that they will not cooperate with the ICC’s efforts to arrest al-Bashir. The decision by the AU represents the most serious challenge to the ICC’s struggle against impunity and lawlessness on the African continent.
The AU’s resolution was followed by an outcry from African civil society groups and leaders stating that they do not want Africa to be an impunity free zone and accusing African Union heads of states of trying to protect themselves from future actions by the ICC. In statements signed in recent conferences in Banjul, Cape Town and Addis Ababa, civil society groups expressed strong support for the ICC for its role in providing justice when national courts are unable or unwilling to prosecute.
For more on the court’s activities in Sudan, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Colombia, visit POV’s Recommended Links and Books feature for The Reckoning.
Other Investigations by the ICC
Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, has opened preliminary analysis into situations in Kenya, Georgia, Colombia and Afghanistan. The Palestinian Authority has asked to submit itself to ICC jurisdiction, in advance of statehood, so that the ICC can investigate Israeli activity in Gaza. The court is considering the request.
For more on on-going ICC activities, visit the ICC’s website.
The U.S. and the ICC
The Obama administration has nominated Stephen Rapp, prosecutor of the U.N.-created Sierra Leone Special Court, to the position of U.S. Ambassador for War Crimes Issues. He and Harold Koh — former dean of the Yale Law School, a proponent of international justice and now legal advisor to the U.S. State Department — will help shape U.S. policy towards the ICC. The U.S. supports the ICC arrest warrant for President al-Bashir of Sudan.
For more on U.S. involvement with the ICC, visit the filmmakers’ IJCentral website, a global social network about the international justice movement.