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ICC Nabs Another Suspect

And another one bites the dust…except, there are far more suspects at large than there are behind bars.  In fact, it is a small miracle anytime the International Criminal Court is able to detain a suspect.

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Let’s Make Ahmad Haroun (in)Famous

Ahmad Haroun is someone that those who write about politics and foreign policy should get to know a bit better. He ought to be at least as infamous as Mladic or Eichmann.

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ICC Gets Some Love from the Obama Administration. But Can It Endure Past ‘Aggression?’

The  International Criminal Court’s governing body, the Assembly of State Parties, is meeting in New York this week.   The United States has not ratified the treaty, so it is not technically a “state party,” but last year the Obama administration decided that the United States, for the first time, would participate as an observer to the meeting.  At the time, U.S. READ MORE

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U.S. to join ICC as an observer

Big news for the cause of international justice, human rights, and deterring war crimes:  the United States has agreed to participate, as an observer, in a meeting of state parties to the International Criminal Court.  The news emerged from a press conference in Nairobi, Kenya with the U.S. Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues, Stephen Rapp. Via Reuters:

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Is 61% approval “deep-seated ambivalence?”

Former Bush Administration official John Bellinger has an interesting WaPo op-ed on the prospects of the United States joining the International Criminal Court. In the main, he’s probably right: the United States is not likely to join the Court in the immediate future. But the argument with which he chooses to conclude his piece is deeply misleading:

Secretary Clinton is right that U.S. non-participation in the ICC is regrettable, especially given the long-standing U.S. commitment to international justice. Yet non-participation also reflects an unfortunate but deep-seated American ambivalence toward international institutions that the Obama administration, despite its support for international law, is unlikely to be able to change.

61% of Americans — well over a majority — have voiced support for that grand-daddy of all international institutions, the United Nations. The suggestion that there is a “deep-seated American ambivalence toward international institutions” is a self-serving straw man. To the extent that popular discomfort with the ICC exists, it is largely a result of myth-making, fear-mongering, and playing politics from above, not an inherent skepticism of the institution.

It’s telling that, while Bellinger claims that President Bush’s “objections” to the Court still exist, he never addresses the validity of these objections. Contrary to his self-confident pronouncement otherwise, the Court could not “be used to prosecute U.S. soldiers during a time of war.” This is political posturing, and a sorry excuse not to join a Court responsible for prosecuting only genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.  If Bellinger is right that ICC ratification is not forthcoming, it will be because a select group of U.S. Senators will consistently maneuver to oppose it, not because of an overwhelming groundswell of popular “ambivalence.”

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ICC warrant working?

Sudanese President Bashir, who’d previously shown few qualms in provocatively traipsing across Africa after his indictment by the ICC, visiting allies that he knew were non-signatories to the Court, has recently backed off a planned trip to neighboring Uganda.  Why?  Well, Kampala hasn’t exactly been clear on the matter, but it seems that even the faintest threat of being arrested (Uganda has ratified the ICC’s Rome Statute) was enough to dissuade Bashir from the chance of looking foolish — and of ending up in the dock in The Hague.

This isn’t surefire proof that the ICC warrant is “working,” of course.  Bashir remains pretty safely ensconced in power — at least as long as he remains in Sudan.  But this is exactly the point of the of the warrant, to constrain Bashir in his movement.  Whether it will actually result in his eventual arrest — or, even better, a viable peace settlement in the country — is far from clear, but if Uganda is willing to arrest send mixed signals about arresting Bashir, well, then that’s a step at least.

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