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A Sudanese Turnaround on the ICC?

For a government that has been so consistently obdurate -- and so unreservedly vocal -- in its refusal to comply with ICC indictments of two of its nationals, any openness toward the Court's work in Sudan understandably comes as a surprise:
The Sudanese government considered turning over two suspects accused of war crimes in Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC), a senior Sudanese official told Sudan Tribune today. The official who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter said that the leadership of the National Congress Party (NCP) "is getting very nervous over the upcoming announcement by the ICC of new suspects". ... According to the official, [NCP foreign minister Ali] Karti made a presentation to the NCP leadership in which he outlined the "difficult position" the government will be in if senior officials are charged by the world court of war crimes. Karti recommended that Haroun and Kushayb being extradited to the Hague "as a protection from further indictments" the official said.
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Just three days ago, President Bashir issued this stern rebuke to the prospects of working with the ICC: "I swear to god, I swear to god, I swear to god we will not hand over any Sudanese to the International Court." Previously, Sudan's ambassador to the UN responded to the ICC indictments of his countrymen by asserting that the ICC Chief Prosecutor should himself "be tried in court." Such aggressive bluster aside, though, the internal machinations of Sudan's ruling cabal seem to indicate that President Bashir and others may be moving toward the more "moderate" camp of Sudanese politicians. If this report is accurate, then it will represent a strong vindication of the Chief Prosecutor's strategy. Some commentators and analysts have criticized the Chief Prosecutor's suggestion that "the entire state apparatus" of Sudan is guilty of war crimes, arguing that his threat to target government officials higher up the food chain may only increase the regime's stubbornness and impede peace-making and humanitarian efforts. The purpose of making such ambitious proclamations, though, should be analyzed not just as a resolutely ideological pursuit for justice -- which is of course a worthwhile goal -- but also as practical attempts to secure compliance on the no-less-worthy "smaller fish" that the Court is pursuing. If Sudanese leaders feel that giving up the already-indicted suspects will spare them from prosecution, then they will be more likely to comply with the ICC, and, hopefully, to decrease their obstruction of peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts. The Sudanese government can deny cooperation with the ICC as fervently as it wants, but if this meeting within Sudan's inner ruling circle is any indication, then this prong of the ICC's strategy seems to be working. (Photo credit: Antony Njuguna/Reuters)
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From Whence Cometh the League of Democracies? And Does It Matter?

In his Washington Post op-ed this week, Jackson Diehl contends that John McCain's proposal to create a "League of Nations" does not actually originate with McCain himself:
In fact, a league of democracies is not a new but a very old idea. In the past decade it has been promoted mostly by Democrats, including several of Barack Obama's top foreign policy advisers.
Diehl then cites a number of various liberal thinkers who have proposed a "concert," a "community," an "alliance," or any other sort of coalition of democratic nations. The problem, however, is that Diehl does not fully consider the nuances of each of these particular ideas, specifically failing to distinguish between initiatives meant to be an association of democracies under the umbrella of the UN and those that merely mouth adherence to the UN system, but are more likely than not intended to supplant the global body. Senator McCain's proposal, it seems, falls under the latter category, and this, for reasons we've articulated before, is a very unproductive idea. More broadly, though, the origins of the idea are ultimately moot. Whether Republicans or Democrats have endorsed a version of the concept will not matter much in the eyes of the rest of the world--and it is the 6.3 billion non-Americans who will likely be most affected by the creation of a new global body. Simply because an idea enjoys supposed bipartisan support (which McCain's "League of Democracies" is far from able to claim) does not mean that it should be taken up by both parties. Any idea should be assessed based not on those who support it, but on the merits of the idea itself. And in the case of an idea with so much potential to harm the global order, both parties would be wiser to abandon it entirely.
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Is Zimbabwe on the Security Council’s Agenda?

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says it is. South Africa, this month's president of the Security Council, however, doesn't think so. From the AP's Edith Lederer:
[South Africa's] U.N. Ambassador, Dumisani Kumalo, insists that Zimbabwe is not on the agenda because the matter is being dealt with by the Southern African Development Community. SADC leaders held a summit in Zambia that ended before dawn Sunday with a weak declaration that failed to criticize the absent Mugabe. The declaration called for the expeditious verification of election results in the presence of the candidates or their agents "within the rule of law," and urged "all parties to accept the results when they are announced."
South Africa has traditionally been criticized for not pushing Mugabe harder on reform, so punting the issue entirely to a regional organization seems a little suspicious. Kumalo, however, seems to recognize that such a pressing concern -- the stalemate could possibly lead to the end of the Mugabe's 28-year reign -- likely can't avoid mention at such a prominent Security Council meeting, particularly when the U.S., Britain, and France, have all indicated that they intend to discuss Zimbabwe.
'Those are huge countries,' Kumalo said. 'They can raise whatever they want to raise and all I have said was that we don't expect Zimbabwe to be discussed tomorrow (Wednesday). But they can raise anything.'
This is not just a power move by the "huge countries" of the West, of course. At a meeting dedicated to improving the UN's cooperation with regional African organizations, it seems only appropriate to discuss how the UN, AU, and SADC can work together to ensure that Zimbabwe's election results are determined freely, fairly, and transparently.
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Is Zimbabwe on the Security Council’s Agenda?

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says it is. South Africa, this month's president of the Security Council, however, doesn't think so. From the AP's Edith Lederer:
[South Africa's] U.N. Ambassador, Dumisani Kumalo, insists that Zimbabwe is not on the agenda because the matter is being dealt with by the Southern African Development Community. SADC leaders held a summit in Zambia that ended before dawn Sunday with a weak declaration that failed to criticize the absent Mugabe. The declaration called for the expeditious verification of election results in the presence of the candidates or their agents "within the rule of law," and urged "all parties to accept the results when they are announced."
South Africa has traditionally been criticized for not pushing Mugabe harder on reform, so punting the issue entirely to a regional organization seems a little suspicious. Kumalo, however, seems to recognize that such a pressing concern -- the stalemate could possibly lead to the end of the Mugabe's 28-year reign -- likely can't avoid mention at such a prominent Security Council meeting, particularly when the U.S., Britain, and France, have all indicated that they intend to discuss Zimbabwe.
'Those are huge countries,' Kumalo said. 'They can raise whatever they want to raise and all I have said was that we don't expect Zimbabwe to be discussed tomorrow (Wednesday). But they can raise anything.'
This is not just a power move by the "huge countries" of the West, of course. At a meeting dedicated to improving the UN's cooperation with regional African organizations, it seems only appropriate to discuss how the UN, AU, and SADC can work together to ensure that Zimbabwe's election results are determined freely, fairly, and transparently.
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Will Kony Sign?

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Continuing the saga of the seemingly perpetually impending peace deal between the Ugandan government and notorious rebel leader Joseph Kony, it appears that Kony is finally going to emerge from the bush to sign a deal tomorrow. Last week, Kony claimed a variety of reasons -- including a lack of toilets -- for delaying his appearance at the remote outpost on the Congo-Sudan border for the signing ceremony. Whether he shows tomorrow or not, one very important question remains unanswered: will the peace last? Reuters hits the nail on the head:
The LRA chief's final intentions remain far from clear. No outsiders have seen him in months, and even if he breaks cover to sign the final agreement, his fighters have refused to lay down their arms until the ICC warrants are scrapped. Uganda's government has said it will ask for the indictments to be lifted only after a final deal is reached. It was not clear whether that meant the rebels had to disarm first too.
Disarmament, of course, is always easier said that done, yet it remains the crux of any responsible peace plan. Justice and accountability are important attendant issues as well, as both we and Opinio Juris have emphasized, but the key -- in the immediate term, at least -- is a cessation of violence. Kony and the LRA seem committed enough to combating their ICC indictments -- even acquiring visas to lobby the UN in New York -- to engage in the peace process, but this is a rather tenuous -- not to mention somewhat ironic -- basis for a robust and long-standing accord. For now, we're waiting for Kony.
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Will Kony Sign?

joseph-kony.jpg
Continuing the saga of the seemingly perpetually impending peace deal between the Ugandan government and notorious rebel leader Joseph Kony, it appears that Kony is finally going to emerge from the bush to sign a deal tomorrow. Last week, Kony claimed a variety of reasons -- including a lack of toilets -- for delaying his appearance at the remote outpost on the Congo-Sudan border for the signing ceremony. Whether he shows tomorrow or not, one very important question remains unanswered: will the peace last? Reuters hits the nail on the head:
The LRA chief's final intentions remain far from clear. No outsiders have seen him in months, and even if he breaks cover to sign the final agreement, his fighters have refused to lay down their arms until the ICC warrants are scrapped. Uganda's government has said it will ask for the indictments to be lifted only after a final deal is reached. It was not clear whether that meant the rebels had to disarm first too.
Disarmament, of course, is always easier said that done, yet it remains the crux of any responsible peace plan. Justice and accountability are important attendant issues as well, as both we and Opinio Juris have emphasized, but the key -- in the immediate term, at least -- is a cessation of violence. Kony and the LRA seem committed enough to combating their ICC indictments -- even acquiring visas to lobby the UN in New York -- to engage in the peace process, but this is a rather tenuous -- not to mention somewhat ironic -- basis for a robust and long-standing accord. For now, we're waiting for Kony.
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UN in Limbo in Kosovo

Today's Christian Science Monitor asks the very pertinent question of what the 4,000-odd UN personnel in Kosovo are to do in a region whose status as an independent country is, to say the least, still up in the air. A compromise proposal negotiated last year by former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari laid out the groundwork to transition from the UN's eight-year stewardship of the region to an EU-monitored independence, but the virulence of the Serbian and Russian reaction to Kosovo's declaration has trammeled any hopes of a smooth handover. From the Monitor:
Unable to recognize the newly declared state without a new mandate from headquarters in New York, workers on the ground are left wondering what exactly their job is -- and how long they'll be here. For now, any work on a planned European Union takeover of police and justice responsibilities is on hold. "We have received no instructions to proceed with transition," says Alexander Ivanko, the UN's spokesman in Pristina. EU leaders agreed to send an 1,800-strong police and judiciary mission to Kosovo to replace the UN administrative mission following Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence on Feb. 17, and it is preparing to deploy.
Until the EU actually deploys -- and Serbia is sending signals that it will continue to resist this deployment -- UN personnel remain guided by the mandate of the 1999 Security Council resolution that created the mission, even though the scope of that mandate is clearly out of synch with the tension of the current situation. Caught in this awkward bind, UN staff are unfairly feeling the squeeze of the international showdown over Kosovo's status; Serbs in Kosovo are suddenly supporting the UN as a bulwark against EU presence. To overcome this threat to its impartial presence, the UN Mission in Kosovo needs both clear definition from the Security Council and greater openness from Serbia and Russia to the EU's proposed role.
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Tension Between Peace and Justice

A new development threatens to derail the recent ceasefire between LRA rebels and the Ugandan government. The snag? Indicted war criminal Joseph Kony and two other LRA leaders -- perpetrators of gross human rights abuses, including mutilation, sexual abuse, and recruitment of child soldiers -- have refused to accept the deal unless ICC arrest warrants are dropped. This dynamic brings into focus the extremely frustrating tension between securing peace and holding perpetrators of mass violence accountable for their crimes. To draw combatants to the negotiating table, mediators cannot exactly trumpet plans to arrest their leaders. However, whitewashing war crimes out of the urgency to enact a peace accord -- particularly one with groups that have a less-than-stellar history of abiding by ceasefires -- would severely undermine the legitimacy of the peace process, damage the entire notion of accountability, and jeopardize the prospects for post-conflict reconciliation.
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‘The Diplomat’?

This story in today's Times, reporting the State Department's announcement that a "team of American experts had arrived at North Korea's sole functioning nuclear reactor and begun the work of disabling the facilities," reminded me that I've been wanting to write about John Bolton's recent destructive tactics with regard to North Korea and Iran. Bear with me. If you haven't been following the Syrian-North Korea story, on September 6 the Israeli Air Force attacked a site inside the borders of Syria that "Israeli and American intelligence analysts judged was a partly constructed nuclear reactor, apparently modeled on one North Korea has used to create its stockpile of nuclear weapons." According to the same Times article:

Many details remain unclear, most notably how much progress the Syrians had made in construction before the Israelis struck, the role of any assistance provided by North Korea, and whether the Syrians could make a plausible case that the reactor was intended to produce electricity. In Washington and Israel, information about the raid has been wrapped in extraordinary secrecy and restricted to just a handful of officials, while the Israeli press has been prohibited from publishing information about the attack.