January 26, 2008

Justice Maybe Through the ICC

It is very easy to condemn the actions going on in Darfur. It is very hard, however, to affect change in that region of the Sudan at all. Very few actions can be taken to alleviate the suffering of those individuals who are in the region or to punish those causing death and genocide. The idea that the International Criminal Court can effectively bring about any punishment is unlikely, but their job is absolutely necessary.

Before going on, I would like to preface this journal with a statement of regret over how our country has not yet joined the ICC. This is despite the fact that the ICC is even willing to make accommodations so that America can overrule certain individuals that the ICC wants to arrest who are US citizens. This just shows that there is no plausible reason for the United States to actually resist ICC membership, which because we are not a part of, puts us in an elite category of nations that includes such wondrous states like Zimbabwe.

The court, however, still has no enforcement power largely because of this lack of US backing. Nevertheless, it can still hand out the sentences and verdicts even though nobody will actually enforce them. It might seem odd that a court would be willing to give out sentences and guilty verdicts knowing full well that almost all of the verdicts that it reaches will never get implemented. But the job of the ICC is twofold, and by actually carrying out its functions it fulfills the important step of having an objective international viewpoint which very clearly shows guilt for crimes on an international scale. The prosecutions against Darfur help to highlight to the entire world that the genocide is a crime and it legitimizes the idea that genocide should be punished.

The attempts to undermine the court by the Sudanese government have been unfortunate. Their sham courts and the obstruction of justice, to the point where even the judges on the special courts that they set up admit to the fact that the government might be excluding the cases through censorship, only make the cause of the ICC more important. Without the ICC, nobody is going to convict the Sudanese government of anything. These convictions are necessary to establishing the formality illegality of the actions undertaken by the Sudanese government, as they provide a basis for which to arrest individuals. They show a clear violation of a set of laws, something which the Sudanese government as so far denied.

It is therefore very important that the work of the ICC be maintained. Hopefully the prosecutor will be successful in getting these men to justice. Even if he fails in his quest to get the men extradited to The Hague, the end result will still be a victory for good in the world, no matter how small it might appear from the outside.

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