Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Darfur, the ICC, and a Sustainable Peace

Julian correctly notes that international tribunals aren’t very effective at stopping ongoing killings. He misses the point that they (a) are effective in helping define post-conflict legal order in transitional states and consequently (b) play an important part in saving lives in the long run. Kristof understands this. He understands that in order to get some type of stability in the Sudan and a sustainable peace, there needs to be credible justice.

The Bush Administration, for its own political reasons, would like an ad hoc tribunal to hear these cases. It has not been able to get the support of the Europeans to fund such a tribunal as they view that there is already a competent tribunal in existence, the ICC. The point of the ICC was to put an end to the relatively inefficient funding of ad hoc tribunals (each needing its own infrastructure and staff) and put all such claims before a single court that would build expertise in the area.

So, in the absence of political consensus, what should the Bush Administration do? They seem to be choosing that it would be preferable to have no tribunal hear these claims over having the ICC hear the claims. This is unwise and it does place the concerns of the victims of violence (I would say genocide) in Darfur secondary to the Bush Administration making a point about its dislike of the ICC.

An ad hoc tribunal is unlikely to do as good a job as the ICC. Not having any tribunal at all puts long-term peace in the region on shakier ground than if there was a tribunal to hear these claims. While the Bush Administration should be commended for pushing the international community to recognize the horrors of Darfur, it is nowhere near where it should be in terms of actually securing a peace.


Blogger Julian Ku said...

Rather than take up another post, let me simply add here that Kristof quotes Roth to say that the ICC will somehow stop the killing a year faster than an ad hoc tribunal. There are good reasons for supporting an ICC referral, but this is simply not one of those reasons. This kind of ridiculous statement is why supporters of the ICC are losing credibility.

2/02/2005 1:33 PM  
Blogger Chris Borgen said...

I'll also just reply as a comment rather than a new post. I think that Roth's quote is an exaggeration but more right than wrong. An ICC referral can get off the ground almost immediately, while starting a new tribunal would take substantially more time and, until that tribunal becomes a "real thing," it probably would not have much ability to dissuade. Consequently, while I do not think (and did not claim in my post) that using the ICC would start saving lives "tomorrow" I do think that it is more effective than trying to start another ad hoc (and will save more lives than going that route) and, in any case, is much more effective than having no prosecutions, which is the option that the Bush Administration seems to be ready to live with. Unfortunately other people literally won't be able to.

2/02/2005 1:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I strongly with Julian. The notion that a tribunal would "consequently (b) play an important part in saving lives in the long run" is laughable and I'd like to see any evidence of such a claim. I daresay Kristof is something of a simpleton if he truly believes that "in order to get some type of stability in the Sudan and a sustainable peace, there needs to be credible justice." If you think a "truth commission" is justice, perhaps; but anyone who believe Justice involves holding the guilty responsible has have a different viewpoint.

Finally, you note "[t]he Bush Administration, for its own political reasons, would like an ad hoc tribunal to hear these cases" as though there's something wrong with this. The Europeans, for their own political reasons, would like the ICC to handle things. But why is the ICC the only option, even though it is up and running now? Why couldn't, say, Japan, create an Asian-analog to the ICC, or is the Euro-centric viewpoint the only legitimate one for those who agree with the Europeans, which I most firmly do not.

That the U.N. has decided Darfur is not genocide is more indicative of the U.N. mindset than, as Borgen argues, the Bush Administration's placing "the concerns of the victims of violence (I would say genocide) in Darfur secondary to . . . making a point about its dislike of the ICC."

2/02/2005 3:28 PM  
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