Thursday, March 5

The ICC's waltz with Bashir

It's official, Sudan's president is wanted by the International Criminal Court for murder and crimes against humanity (though not genocide). Government-orchestrated protests have been going on in Khartoum the past two days, though these aren't a reliable gauge of public sentiment. More worrying, ten international aid agencies have been kicked out of Darfur, including Oxfam, Save the Children, International Rescue Committee and there are reports that more may follow. There's no shortage of reaction pieces to sift through. For a sampling, the International Crisis Group and Human Rights Watch have positive reactions.

Harvard's Alex De Waal provide's the enlightened skeptic's take. I remain vigorously undecided as to whether this was a good idea or not. Yes, it's nice to see someone sticking it to Bashir and his crew, and Sudan didn't seem to be headed on a great path before the warrant. But it is problematic that the African Union, the Arab League, China, and Russia have all lined up against it. And it's not clear that if someone were to replace Bashir that they would be any better.

So I'm not as down on the warrant as is De Waal, but as usual he has some wise words :
As of yesterday, everything that any commentator or expert thinks he or she knew with confidence about Sudan becomes moot. Wishful thinking took the place of analysis. Nick Kristof wrote a few days ago that fears of aid agency expulsion were ‘overblown.’ He got it wrong.


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