Monday, July 26, 2010

AU and the ICC

Ok, Im sorry I keep bringing this up, but this revelation was too exciting to pass up. Please also excuse the mess of this post as thats too much I want to include.

"The African Union (AU) delegates at the summit in Uganda agreed to remove language from the draft resolution that instructs its members not to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in apprehending the Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir." ST

The removal of the language was pushed by (ICC members) South Africa, Ghana and Botswana, in opposition of (non-ICC members) Libya, Eriteria and Egypt.
However, the resolution will still stand to defer Bashir's arrest warrants and will push to amend article 16 of the Rome Statute that basically only allows the UN security council to defer any investigations. The AU is calling for that power to be passed on to the General Assembly. More on that here and here.

Despite the differing views on what to do with Bashir's warrants, it is nice to see a unified position on the ICC by AU member states
"To subject a sovereign head of state to a warrant of arrest is undermining African solidarity and African peace and security that we fought for for so many years," Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika, current head of the pan-African organization.

This is concreted with the resolution
REQUESTS Member States that are states parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC to ensure that they adhere and honour their obligations to the AU under Article 23(2) of the Constitutive Act;
So the reason all this is so exciting is because it essentially brings rise to three major issues that that require careful deliberation:

1) Which international law is greater? With the growing importance and respect of regional bodies such as the AU or the EU by their member states, will the more global international law come second to those of regional law in the same way that international laws come second to state laws? In this case, a country that choose to go against the AU and favor the ICC may face isolation and sanctions by all other members, under article 23 (2).

2) Justice vs. Peace: should countries risk causing instability and potentially bringing harm to the civilians/citizens of the country in question as well as their own civilians/citizens, for some self-righteous conception of justice? If undermining the ICC warrants can lead to long term peace in Sudan and the region, is it not worth doing?

3) Will Africa and the rest of the non-western world ever really shake that feeling that the ICC is "a European driven court, focusing on the continent only and turning a blind eye to atrocities elsewhere"?

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