Throughout the day we will keep a running tally of international responses to today’s announcement that the International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al Bashir.
Posting to the Enough Project’s blog Rebecca Bracato captures a Q and A with State Department spokesperson Gordon Dugiod, who struggles to explain how the United States can support ICC action against Sudan when the United States is not itself a member of the ICC.
Doctors Without Borders takes another hit in Sudan as Khartoum orders the French section of MSF to back its bags. “The decision to expel the French section of MSF, brutal and sudden, follows the expulsion yesterday of the organization’s Dutch section. MSF is appalled by this order, which clearly holds the needs of the population of Darfur hostage to political and judicial agendas. The organization protests the order in the strongest of terms and appeals to the government to repeal these decisions and allow MSF to resume independent and impartial humanitarian assistance immediately.”
Nick Kristof, in a blog post reporting that the Sudanese government dissolved a domestic aid group, the Sudanese Development Organization. “Expel those aid workers and you kill Darfuris as surely as if you machine gun them. In the 1990’s, photos of emaciated Bosnians in concentration camps tugged at the conscience of the world; all Darfur is now turning into a concentration camp. It is imperative that the international worker stand up to Bashir and ensure that the expulsion is reversed. He’s testing us”.
All the way from Tehran, the spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry of Iran Hassan Qashqavi offered the official Iranian take on the warrant. “Issuance of such a arrest warrant is in violation of international laws and a blatant example of discrimination in administration of justice worldwide…Since the criminal officials of the Zionist regime continue their crimes and atrocities, the silence and inaction of such courts in dealing with such crimes against humanity have defamed such institutions.”
James Cockayne, of the International Peace Institute in New York: “For now, the first question is whether Bashir fashions his own exit, or whether, like Milosevic and Taylor, his supporters politely show him the door. One option might be for him to go temporarily into exile, as Taylor did. The Arab League is said to be mulling that proposal.”
Two British aid agencies, Oxfam GB and Save the Children UK, just got the boot from Sudan. The Scotsman has more.
Via Xinhua, the European Union weighs in. Nothing too exciting here, except to note that it is a sign of a healthy union when the EU speaks as a single voice on foreign policy matters. “The European Union has taken note of the decision of the International Criminal Court’s Pre-Trial Chamber to issue an arrest warrant against Sudan’s President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir in connection with alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur,” said the Czech Republic, which holds the rotating EU presidency, in a statement. “The EU reiterates its full support and respect for the International Criminal Court and its key role in the promotion of international justice,” said the statement.
It’s happening. MSF-Holland was summoned to meet Sudanese authorities shortly after the ICC announcement and told to pack their bags. From an MSF release that just landed in my inbox “This expulsion comes at a time when meningitis, a deadly disease if left untreated, has broken out in Kalma Camp, a temporary home to more than 90,000 internally displaced persons. It also leaves an estimated 70,000 people without any access to healthcare in Muhajariya, due to the closure of the area’s only hospital, and forces the closure of health clinics in and around Feina, where MSF treats an average of 3,000 people each month.”
Charles Brown, at Undiplomatic, speaks of his experience on the U.S. delegation in Rome during the ICC’s creation, and says that, in indicting Bashir, the Court has “done exactly what it is supposed to do.”
The Times‘ Rob Crilly reports that the Sudanese government’s backlash may have begun — international aid organizations have been instructed to move their field operations to the Darfuri capitals (hat tip: Michael Kleinman).
New Jersey Democratic Congressman Donald Payne, who chairs the African Affairs Sub-committee and is one of Congresses’ most outspoken Darfur advocate lets loose. “For far too long we have allowed Khartoum to get away with state-sanctioned genocide. This move by the ICC gives hope that the world will no longer look away.”
State Department Spokesperson Robert Wood, with the Secretary of State in Ramallah, gives us the official American response. “The United States believes that those who have committed atrocities should be brought to justice as the ICC (International Criminal Court) process continues,” State Department spokesman Robert Wood said. “We urge restraint on the part of all parties including the government of Sudan. Further violence against civilian Sudanese or foreign interests must be avoided and will not be tolerated.”
Save Darfur President Jerry Fowler: “After six years of destruction and violence in Darfur, today’s decision by the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant for President Bashir is a game changing moment. It will now be much harder for Sudan’s allies in the U.N. Security Council, as well as other leaders of Sudan’s National Congress Party, to stand arm in arm with a wanted war criminal. The Obama administration should take advantage of this opportunity to lead a coordinated international effort to negotiate peace in Darfur, while ensuring immediate protection of civilians and support for the court’s pursuit of justice.”
From the office of Ban Ki Moon: “The United Nations will continue to conduct its vital peacekeeping, humanitarian, human rights and development operations and activities in Sudan. The Secretary-General calls on the Government of Sudan to continue to cooperate fully with all UN entities and their implementing partners, while fulfilling its obligation to ensure the safety and security of the civilian population, UN personnel and property, and that of its implementing partners.”
UK Foreign Minister David Miliband affirms British support for the ICC. “The UK has consistently been a strong supporter of the ICC as an independent judicial body committed to the fight against impunity, and of its engagement on Darfur following UNSCR 1593. We support the independent process that has led to this decision, which we fully respect. We have consistently urged the Government of Sudan to cooperate with the Court over existing arrest warrants. We deeply regret that the Government has not taken these allegations seriously or engaged with the Court, and we repeat today our call for its cooperation.”
Scott Paul at The Washington Note is much more optimistic: “Globally, the ICC has served notice that the days of impunity from the world’s most heinous crimes are coming to an end. For Sudan, the indictment should ratchet up international pressure on Khartoum as well as weaken Bashir domestically.”
International Law Professor and Opinio Juris blogger Kevin John Heller is less than impressed. “To begin with, it seems to me that the [..] decision is, from a political perspective, the worst of all possible worlds. Sudan’s response to the arrest warrant will be no less draconian simply because Bashir escaped (for now) being charged with genocide. Yet I think we can expect the rest of the world to lose interest in Darfur (again) now that the PTC has said that the Sudanese government did not pursue a genocidal policy towards the Fur, Massalit, and Zaghawa.”
Longtime Sudan scholar Alex De Waal, who’s made no secret of his disapproval of the Chief Prosecutor’s actions, warns that the indictment is coming at a “pivotal turning-point” for Sudan, with elections scheduled for this year and the possible dissolution of the country looming with the South Sudan referendum in 2011. The ICC’s decision, he reminds us, is at least on its face “pretty toothless,” given the Court’s lack of enforcement power.
The International Crisis Group’s Nick Grono: “For the millions of Darfuri victims, this landmark decision provides independent legal recognition of the massive crimes committed against them, and confirms that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Bashir is personally criminally responsible.” Recommendations? For Sudan: to survive, you’ve gotta change either your policies or your leadership; to succeed, you’re gonnahave to change both. For the international community? Support the Court. Video of Grono here.
Kate Cronin-Furman at Wronging Rights has the goods on which charges stuck: “Looks like it includes war crimes and crimes against humanity charges, but not the requested genocide charge.”
John Prendergast and Omar Ismail: “The expected International Criminal Court arrest warrant tomorrow for President Omer al-Bashir and shifting international sands provide an unprecedented opening, making Sudan’s prospects for peace riper than they have been in memory.”