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Back to School in Southern Sudan

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Three years after the signing of a peace deal that ended the decades of civil war that ravaged much of Southern Sudan, UNICEF has achieved a major success in improving education in the region. The UN News Centre reports:

Some 1.3 million children in southern Sudan are expected to start classes this year, compared to just 340,000 in 2005, thanks to an initiative supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to boost school enrollment and strengthen the education system.

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A major milestone has been the increase in the number of girls in school — some 34 per cent of the 1.3 million children now in school. During the civil war less than 1 per cent of girls completed their primary education.

Along with promoting enrolment, UNICEF has also been supporting the Government of Southern Sudan in building over 200 new permanent classrooms, rehabilitating nearly 300 existing classrooms, and providing 400 emergency classroom tents while construction gets under way. A 2006 survey showed that only 16 per cent of the nearly 3,000 schools in the region had permanent buildings.

Read the full article here.

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Zoe’s Ark and Interpol

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A reader points me to this Reuters dispatch reporting that Sudan will issue arrest warrants for six French aid workers who were released from custody in Chad after being pardoned by Chadian President Idris Deby for abducting 103 children. (In case you missed the story when it came out, the short version is that a French humanitarian group tried to “rescue” Darfuri orphans from refugee camps in Chad and deliver them to adopting families in France. It turned out that many of the children were not orphans, nor from Darfur.) The Reuters article notes that Sudan will ask interpol to issue the warrants, so the exasperated reader remarks, “It would be laughable if it weren’t so infuriating. The idea of Interpol arresting “criminal” aid workers at the behest of the Sudanese regime boggles the mind.”

Just one point of fact. Presumably, Sudan is asking Interpol–the international criminal police organization–to issue what it calls a “Red Notice” for the six aid workers. In many cases, the Red Notice is a functional equivalent to an international arrest warrant because many countries have bi-lateral extradition treaties with each other. But in this case, I sincerely doubt that Interpol will issue a Red Notice at all because the organization’s charter prohibits it from issuing Red Notices for people targeted for arrest for anything that smells like political reasons. It would be one thing if these were car thieves, but becausel’affair Zoe’s Arkis so wrapped in political controversy, it’s hard to imagine any red notices being issued on these aid workers.

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Zoe’s Ark and Interpol

ICPOLogoWeb.gif

A reader points me to this Reuters dispatch reporting that Sudan will issue arrest warrants for six French aid workers who were released from custody in Chad after being pardoned by Chadian President Idris Deby for abducting 103 children. (In case you missed the story when it came out, the short version is that a French humanitarian group tried to “rescue” Darfuri orphans from refugee camps in Chad and deliver them to adopting families in France. It turned out that many of the children were not orphans, nor from Darfur.) The Reuters article notes that Sudan will ask interpol to issue the warrants, so the exasperated reader remarks, “It would be laughable if it weren’t so infuriating. The idea of Interpol arresting “criminal” aid workers at the behest of the Sudanese regime boggles the mind.”

Just one point of fact. Presumably, Sudan is asking Interpol–the international criminal police organization–to issue what it calls a “Red Notice” for the six aid workers. In many cases, the Red Notice is a functional equivalent to an international arrest warrant because many countries have bi-lateral extradition treaties with each other. But in this case, I sincerely doubt that Interpol will issue a Red Notice at all because the organization’s charter prohibits it from issuing Red Notices for people targeted for arrest for anything that smells like political reasons. It would be one thing if these were car thieves, but becausel’affair Zoe’s Arkis so wrapped in political controversy, it’s hard to imagine any red notices being issued on these aid workers.

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A Darfur Scholar Weighs in on the Role of the ICC

In describing the hard political trade-offs that must be made in negotiating peace in Darfur, longtime Sudan expert Alex De Waal, in his aptly named blog, Making Sense of Darfur, offers this insightful nugget into the operations of the young ICC:

Arguably the main role of the ICC is less to mount prosecutions itself and more to push nations to take the rule of law and accountability seriously. We are a long long way from possessing an international rule of law in which it would be possible routinely to enforce justice against perpetrators.

In the cases of both Darfur and Northern Uganda, I have argued that bringing perpetrators to justice — at least eventually — is a key aspect of achieving peace and reconciliation. Alex correctly identifies the scale of the difficulties faced by the ICC and the importance of infusing a culture of justice into societies marred by conflict. However, I am not swayed by the implication that the ICC’s involvement in Sudan will push that country’s government to “take the rule of law and accountability seriously.” The system of kangaroo courts that it has implemented to try suspects involved in the Darfur genocide is proof enough that, without a credible threat, the regime will pay only lip service to the notion of accountability. ICC prosecutions are important in their own right — they need to at least initially be used as sticks, even if, later, they are turned into carrots.

| Leave a comment

A Darfur Scholar Weighs in on the Role of the ICC

In describing the hard political trade-offs that must be made in negotiating peace in Darfur, longtime Sudan expert Alex De Waal, in his aptly named blog, Making Sense of Darfur, offers this insightful nugget into the operations of the young ICC:

Arguably the main role of the ICC is less to mount prosecutions itself and more to push nations to take the rule of law and accountability seriously. We are a long long way from possessing an international rule of law in which it would be possible routinely to enforce justice against perpetrators.

In the cases of both Darfur and Northern Uganda, I have argued that bringing perpetrators to justice — at least eventually — is a key aspect of achieving peace and reconciliation. Alex correctly identifies the scale of the difficulties faced by the ICC and the importance of infusing a culture of justice into societies marred by conflict. However, I am not swayed by the implication that the ICC’s involvement in Sudan will push that country’s government to “take the rule of law and accountability seriously.” The system of kangaroo courts that it has implemented to try suspects involved in the Darfur genocide is proof enough that, without a credible threat, the regime will pay only lip service to the notion of accountability. ICC prosecutions are important in their own right — they need to at least initially be used as sticks, even if, later, they are turned into carrots.

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Wednesday Morning Coffee

Top Stories

>>Zimbabwe – Despite reports yesterday that President Robert Mugabe would step down after 28 years in power, Zimbabwe’s state-run newspaper has reported that a runoff
will be held
as opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai failed to garner over 50 percent of the vote. Yesterday’s reports had suggested that Mugabe thought a runoff would be “demeaning” and that he would
rather step down. Both parties have denied the existence of a deal or any negotiations in an attempt to broker a deal. Meanwhile, reports continue to suggest that Zimbabwe’s ruling elite is fracturing
and has begun to reach out to the opposition for an equitable solution.

>>Olympics – Amnesty International has released a report that says China’s human rights record has been getting worse not better in the run up to the Olympics, citing the pre-Olympics “clean-up” of Beijing and crackdowns in Tibet. Nancy Pelosi, who just met with the Dalai Lama, suggested on Tuesday that President Bush should consider skipping
the opening ceremonies
. Meanwhile, China has accused
the Dalai Lama and his followers of building arsenals in preparation for an escalation of the conflict, which the Chinese say could include suicide attacks. China’s president Hu Jintao ordered his security forces to place top priority on the Olympic games in August because “without security guarantees the national image will be lost.” India’s Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee warned the Dalai Lama against damaging political activity directed at China.

>>NATO – In remarks prior to the opening of a three-day NATO summit in Bucharest, President Bush reiterated his support for Georgia’s and the Ukraine’s membership in the body and pressed France and Germany to do the same. This sets up a potentially contentious discussion at the opening dinner where the Summit’s agreements will be decided. NATO decisions require unanimity among the members.

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