Lots of talk this week about the indictement of Sudan’s President, Omar Al Bashir. Journalists, analysts and bloggers are taking positions on this issue, and the terms of the debate seem to boil down to justice vs. peace. Indicting Bashir, it again signals the “end of impunity”, also diminishes the possibility of negotiated political settlement in which the “”””international community”””(many quotation marks intended) would play a significant role.
I am firm believer in the role of international law in guaranteeing respect for human rights and moving us towards something closer to global justice – in the long run. In the short run, however, it seems that political considerations (might I say imperatives?) need to be weighed appropriately when making highly charged legal decisions, such as indicting Bashir. Politically, the move hasn’t garnered the high level support it needs to succeed. Beyond this, it also is a critical move for the ICC – if the indictment is challenged by the judges, the consequences for the Office of the Prosecutor should be interesting…
There are hundreds of opinion pieces on this topic – this one, from the LA Times, takes the position that the indictment probably delays the possibility of peace in Darfur (and in Sudan at large). I thought this quote really captured the essence of the debate, and I’ll leave you with it:
“A harsh question: Is this [the indictment] about helping bring peace to Darfur or is it about furthering a political vision of the world, one based on human rights as the categorical political and, above all, moral imperative no matter what the real-world consequences?”(emphasis added)
Oh, the traps of idealism….