About Time

16 07 2008

Its about time the ICC issued a warrant for al-Bashir’s arrest.

PARIS — The prosecutor at the International Criminal Court formally requested an arrest warrant on Monday for Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the past five years of bloodshed in the Darfur region of his country.

The prosecutor’s pursuit of Mr. Bashir introduced new volatility to the already chaotic situation in Darfur. While some diplomats and analysts worried that the move would undermine efforts to negotiate peace and provide aid to the millions displaced by violence, others said it offered new leverage to pressure the Sudanese government to end the conflict in Darfur.

Some worry that this may create do more harm than good because it may politicize the prosecution of Bashir, a sitting head of state and may lead to Khartoum committing more atrocities. But, as a number of experts have already noted, the Sudanese government had no interest in cooperating with the United Nations or reaching a peace deal with the rebel groups or ending their genocidal campaign at all.

And in the end, even countries like China, which has a an enormous interest in Sudan’s oil reserves, either will offer no more than meager protest because they think the case will not go anywhere or because they would rather not risk an international backlash.

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