Earlier today, one of my colleagues posted a link to this article and called it "the best news ever." This article explains the United Nation’s decision to bring Sudanese war criminals to the International Criminal Court. Not to rain on anyone's parade, but I strongly disagree that we are in any position to pass judgment on this action brought by the United Nations. I understand that this news, if nothing at all, seems to be an important achievement in the long road to justice for the Sudanese, but in fact, I fear that this may not be the case at all.
I'd like to point out that the international community decided to treat Nazi war criminals the sam way after the Holocaust, and you know what, 90% of the SS was never brought to trial. The problem with this precedent, aside from the failure to prosecute 90% of the war criminals who took part in the Holocaust, is that it perpetuates the mindset that says if you’re involved in genocide, in crimes against humanity (if we assume that most crimes the SS committed fit into this category) you probably won’t be brought to trial/prosecuted. The reason that they do not prosecute most of the war criminals is that most foreign leaders are apathetic in so far as they have other things to deal with, which they consider to be of more pertinence to the well being of their country. It’s not like the UN, or International Criminal Court, has the resources to search out these suspects on their own. Until I start to see a great deal of effort out of the international community to apprehend the monsters that commit crimes against humanity, I will not be convinced that this move is anything more than a motion meant to appease the general public (or at least those of us who care). This is the reason why we have to be careful in dealing with this news story. 11 countries were in favor of sending war criminals to World Court, while the two most powerful countries in the world abstained: the US and China. I imagine that we were forced to abstain since we torture our prisoners, and some of our military officers are guilty against crimes against humanity themselves, but really, why in God's name do we not support the prosecution of such evil men?
According to the article and the PR people on Capital Hill (we all know how much we can trust them), "American objections to the court are based on the view that it is unaccountable and could become a forum for politically motivated prosecutions against Americans abroad." Before today, we had been opposed to the action, and today we are abstainers. Since we knew the thing was going to pass anyway, why not abstain instead of object; we don’t look nearly as bad, or do we? "The vote followed days of trans-Atlantic negotiation involving Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, and France's foreign minister, Michel Barnier, and produced an 11th- hour maneuver that secured agreement when Britain replaced France as the sponsor of the measure. The outcome spared the United States the onus of casting a veto and seeming to block the arrest and prosecution of war crimes suspects." And the ironic part about this is, according to the article, "The United States has been in the forefront of calling for action in Darfur," and according to our deputy ambassador to the UN, Anne W. Patterson, "We decided not to oppose the resolution because of the need of the international community to work together in order to end the climate of impunity in Sudan." Yes, its very important that the world community work together on this, so long as we're not part of it.
The bottom line is that we cannot be satisfied with this motion by the UN, and we should be appalled by the apathy of our government (what's new?). Just because the international community, or part of it, wants to send these men to world court, does not mean that many of these men are going to be found and brought there. Unless all these countries who voted in favor of the motion put great effort into their Sudanese intelligence and send police/military to find the creeps who killed their fellow countrymen, then what does this action actually mean?
If nothing does come of this decision, then we have to hope that it isn't just a ploy to get the concerned public to lose interest in the matter and trust that the World Court will take care of this mess. Nowhere in the article is it specified who is supposed to apprehend these criminals, nor who is going to find them. According to the Econmist, "Human-rights groups have hailed as “historic” the UN Security Council’s resolution to refer 51 people suspected of war crimes in Sudan’s Darfur region to the International Criminal Court. But without a larger and more robust foreign intervention in Darfur, the murders and other abuses are unlikely to end soon." In the previous draft of this post I said that I didn't think many people had been, or were going to be arrested. Now that I know that 51 people have been arrested, I am vindicated, much to my dismay. I also imagine that few countries are willing to send their citizens into an African country to search for war criminals. After all, no one cared to search after the Holocaust and that took place in the middle of Europe where there was an already established military presence. And like the Holocaust, the Sudanese government, like the Nazi party, was responsible for the killing that occurred.