Friday, July 11, 2008

Recovering the Vision?

On September 22, 2006 I used my old blog to put up a post entitled, "Has the United Nations Failed the Vision of its Founders?" Its point of departure was an ABC News article based on the following argument:

Of the 20 people listed as the world's worst dictators in a new book, Tyrants: The World's 20 Worst Living Dictators by David Wallechinsky, a best-selling author and historian, at least two are in New York this week: the President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, and the President of Pakistan, the U.S. ally Pervez Musharraf.

According to a report just released by Al Jazeera English based on their wire services, the United Nations may be recovering its vision:

The Washington Post newspaper earlier reported that the prosecutor of the ICC would seek an arrest warrant for al-Bashir, charging him with genocide and crimes against humanity, citing UN officials and diplomats.

Publicly, the United Nations has remained quiet over the issue that could pit the demands of the UN-backed ICC against UN interests in deploying a peace force in Darfur.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general declined on Thursday to say who would be named or what the consequences might be for the struggling UN-African Union force.

Seven soldiers of the force were killed in an attack by unidentified militia on Tuesday.

"Peace without justice cannot be sustainable," he said. "I will have to assess
all the situations when there will be an announcement by the ICC."

There is not much news in the observation that al-Bashir has not been "part of the solution" when it comes to bringing peace to Darfur; but now we have the first step of official action based on the old motto from the Sixties that names him as "part of the problem." Meanwhile, those of us with a sense of irony may appreciate that the United States State Department saw fit to comment of this action:

The US state department has confirmed that prosecutors from the International Criminal Court (ICC) will seek an arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, for genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

"I understand that there is some notice that the prosecutor intends to go before a panel of judges to present information and request for a warrant," Sean McCormack, a state department spokesman, told reporters on Friday.

That this is irony rather than chutzpah (which would threaten yesterday's award and our President's appreciation of round numbers) resides in the fact that the United States still does not recognize the ICC, meaning that the United States remains little more than a disinterested observer where the plight of Darfur is concerned. All things considered, this occasion would probably been better served by the State Department keeping its institutional mouth shut (unlike their Chutzpah Award-winning leader) and referring inquiring reporters to the press representatives of the United Nations.

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