International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Tag Archives: Bashir

Discontent on the African Continent

Mills’ article, “Bashir is Dividing US” addresses the fraught and complex relationship between African states and the International Criminal Court.

Here a few questions to help guide you through the article. You can provide responses to any of the questions in the comments – an informal study guide for everyone. (A response will count as  post for the week)

icc-africa-leaders1) Despite their initial support for the ICC, what arguments do African states present against the ICC?

2) How has the African Union presented challenges and obstacles to the ICC? How do they want it reformed?

3) Mills contends that the unity of opposition to the ICC in Africa is a “façade”? What does he mean by this? And what types of tensions are reflected in the “arguments” among African states?

4) Are there other examples of African states conflicting with the ICC recently?

Omar al-Bashir wins Sudan Elections

In recent Presidential elections, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir was re-elected with 94% of votes. According to BBC news sources, “the country’s main opposition parties boycotted the election, saying they would not be free and fair” thereby leaving us to question the legitimacy of the election. This situation has prompted a close consideration of whether or not justice has a deterrent impact on international actors. Bashir’s re-election demonstrates that justice does not always serve as a deterrent factor. While some might argue that justice does not work as a deterrent factor because of the perpetrator’s inability to perform a cost benefit analysis of the situation, Bashir demonstrates otherwise. Bashir’s ICC arrest warrant proves that his desires and demand for presidency make him a rational actor. “Despite his age, stepping down is not an option for Bashir. It would mean surrendering power and the possibility of prosecution by The Hague.” Bashir’s ICC arrest warrant failed to deter Bashir’s actions, but also motivated him to run for re-election. Not only did justice fail to provide deterrence for the Sudanese perpetrator, Bashir’s re-election poses a threat to peace and security as his presidency could destabilize the current political situation. “These elections may decide something, but do not resolve anything. Indeed, they have deepened the current political crises by intensifying mistrust: mistrust among political parties, mistrust among the country’s centre and its peripheries, and mistrust between political parties and their supposed constituencies.” How should the international community respond to Bashir’s re-election? Is there such a thing as “un-doing” justice and could it help in stabilizing Sudan’s political situation? If Bashir is a rational actor, what can be done to remedy the situation?

Elections set to begin in Sudan tomorrow, expectations for a victory by incumbent al-Bashir

Incumbent al-Bashir is expected to continue his time as President of Sudan after elections held over the course of the next three days will come to a conclusion. Although al-Bashir has held office for over 25 years, the political climate seems to be relatively non-competitive in the race for president. Despite almost 15 other presidential candidates in the race, there are extremely low expectations for any sort of impact on the likelihood of al-Bashir’s impending victory by these other candidates. In the country that has recently been dealing with crises such as South Sudan’s succession and accusations by the international community of the commitment of war crimes and other crimes against humanity, it is quite intriguing that there is not a stronger dissent group to the continuation of al-Bashir as president.

Interestingly, there is a small opposition group that is choosing to boycott the elections and voting altogether in order to make a statement against the reign of al-Bashir. Many people believe, however, that by boycotting the elections, this opposition group is not making a realistic impact on the elections. Much of the opposition group’s concerns and reasoning for boycotting the elections is centered around the plausibility of fairness in the elections. Additionally, concerns about the government rigging the elections and violence are those most cited as reasoning for boycotting the elections. The elections, however, are to be formally observed by the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and the Arab League–all organizations which have pledged to ensure fairness and transparency throughout the elections.

The outcome of the elections will be most interesting in relation to the International Criminal Court because if al-Bashir is no longer in power, there is a greater potential for pursuing the trial against him for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

ICC Calls for Security Council Action in Sudan

Yesterday, the ICC released a statement calling for the Security Council to take some action to enforce their referral of the Sudan situation, made in 2005.  The Court requested the UNSC take “necessary measures” to enforce compliance, and said without UNSC support, the referral would “never achieve its ultimate goal, namely, to end impunity.”  The Pre-Trial Chamber II found that Sudan failed to cooperate with the Court in refusing to arrest Bashir, and emphasized that as a member of the UN, Sudan has the obligation to “cooperate fully with and provide any necessary assistance to the Court and the Prosector pursuant to this resolution.”  Sudan failed to cooperate by refusing to engage in talks with the court, failing to execute pending arrest warrants, and failing to notify the Chamber that the warrants would not be executed.

This is at least the eighth time that Chief Prosecutor Benousoda has requested enforcement assistance from the Security Council.  It is interesting that the statement readily admits that without support from the Security Council, the court alone will not be able to end impunity.  By expressly pointing out Sudan’s failures of compliance and explaining the Court’s inability to arrest Bashir without Security Council support, the Court admits its own lack of enforcement power, which may actually bolster its legitimacy.  By highlighting the ways in which Sudan violated its obligations to the Court, the blame is put on the Security Council for failing to follow through and enforce their referral.  The fact that Bashir has not been brought to the Hague and put on trial is not the fault of the ICC, but the international community.

Sudanese Rebel Leader Calls Upcoming Election a Hoax

sudanese rebel pic

Minni Minnawi, a rebel leader in the Sudanese Liberation Army, spoke out to the international community this week after the U.S. eased sanctions on Khartoum. This easing comes despite reports of renewed violence in Darfur, with 50,000 people being displaced since the beginning of 2015. An election is coming up this April, but Minnawi is not hopeful. According to Minnawi, the election is just propaganda, as Omar al-Bashir has already secured the victory. Minnawi asserted that his movement will not recognize this election as legitimate and urged the international community to not recognize Bashir as a legitimate head of state. Many opposition parties to Bashir’s regime have threatened to boycott the election.

Meanwhile, last week Washington decided to relax its sanctions on Sudan and allow some communications equipment to go into the country. South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma also met in Khartoum, calling Bashir a “dear brother” and noting the increasing cooperation occurring between Sudan and South Africa. Minnawi saw this as an insult, denying that Bashir could be characterized as a “dear brother.”

These events bring some important questions to mind. In light of the relaxation of U.S. sanctions on Sudan, is the U.S. forgoing justice in order to pursue more diplomatically advantageous relations with Sudan? Is the U.S. giving up because Bashir looks like he is going to win another election, and thus they will have to work with him? Why have no bells been rung about the potential election fraud in Sudan? Shouldn’t the AU be doing something about this fraud, as an organization meant to symbolize democratic progress in the continent? Democracy that isn’t really democracy is not worth upholding, is it? Furthermore, as we have seen in Kenya and in Cote d’Ivoire, election controversy has been a notorious instigator of violence. With Sudanese rebel groups threatening to boycott the election, calling it propaganda, post-election violence may be looming in Sudan.

Moreover, if Bashir wins again, what will that mean for the international community’s pursuit of justice against him? As we saw with President Kenyatta in Kenya, prosecuting a sitting head of state is immensely difficult. If Bashir is re-elected, as he is expected to be, pursuing justice against him may be that much harder.

Lastly, what do South African President Jacob Zuma’s comments indicate about Africa’s stance on Bashir? Based off of his comments, it appears that Zuma is more interested in cooperation with Sudan than he is with bringing Bashir to justice. Politics seem to be taking precedence over accountability, which is disturbing given South Africa’s history of apartheid.

For the full article, click here.

Sudan President Eludes Arrest

According to an article covering the unrest in Darfur, crimes charged by the ICC of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes have eluded the president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir. Although the ICC has issued two warrants for al-Bashir’s arrest in 2009, he is still involved as a high-ranking governing figure. Sudan even had the audacity to send the president to attend a UN general assembly meeting despite the severity of his charges. Not only does the Sudanese government protect Bashir, but also neighboring countries that have been asked to arrest him by the ICC have neglected these orders.

The UN estimates that the growing conflict in Darfur has killed 300,000 people and has made 2 million people uproot and leave their homes. The Sudanese government, however, puts the death toll near 10,000. These devastating numbers that represent heinous crimes are now being dropped due to the fact that the ICC has to move their focus to more pressing and tangible cases because that the arrest of Bashir hasn’t moved at a fast enough pace.

I think that the suspension of Omar al-Bashir’s case is a huge issue that the ICC has created. Not only does it not fulfill the justice that the victim and victim’s families in Darfur deserve, it also gives power to the African Union to abuse the ICC and to any other country leaders that perform atrocity crimes in the future. Since genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes can’t get a president arrested in some countries, then the ICC should probably rethink how they can get a more cooperative involvement in their search for justice.

Bashir Slams ICC

Bashir Slams ICC

President Bashir condemned the ICC for issuing an arrest warrant for his defense minister. Bashir addressed the crowd during a rally, accusing the ICC of trying to undermine a symbol of the country’s armed forces. He then said he and his minister would defend the dignity and pride of Sudan.

The court said Hussein is wanted on 41 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, torture, pillaging and attacks against civilians.

Sudanese officials dismissed the warrant, saying they did not plan to hand over Hussein. Sudan does not recognize the ICC and has previously dismissed the prosecutors’ charges against Hussein as politically motivated.

Bashir has continued to ignore the ICC’s arrest warrant by continuing to travel abroad, but only in countries that are not participants of the ICC, or where authorities are unlikely to arrest him.

The U.S. has also expressed their opinion, specifically U.S. secretary Hilary Clinton saying that Bashir appears to be undermining the new South Sudan, adding that Washington would consider increasing pressure on Bashir to reverse course”.

Since 1997, Sudan has been under U.S. economic sanctions. Bashir fired back following Clinton’s statement by saying “The Americans always said they will treat Sudan with a carrot and stick. We want to say to them: we don’t want their carrot because their roots are poisoned and nasty. And we don’t fear their stick.”

What do you think about this statement and the fact that it seems Bashir may never be taken down by the ICC?

ICC Issues Arrest Warrant for Sudan’s Defense Minister

The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant Thursday for Sudan’s defense minister, the third senior regime official sought by the court for alleged involvement in atrocities in Darfur.

The court announced it wants Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein arrested on a warrant containing seven counts of crimes against humanity and six war crimes including murder, persecution, rape and torture. The charges cover 41 different incidents, the court said.

With the arrest warrant of Bashir and one other upper level official already out and, so far, unsuccessful, what do you think will be the effect of this new arrest warrant? Although Sudan is not a state party to the ICC, the UNSC has asked Ocampo to investigate the atrocities in Darfur. Do you see this move as closer to bringing the accused perpetrators to justice? Or could it simply exacerbate tensions?

Kenya and al-Bashir

We’ve talked a lot in class about Sudan’s President Bashir and the fact that he has traveled outside of Sudan in countries that are member states of the ICC and still has not been arrested.  I was looking into it a little bit and I found an interesting article on AlJazeera from back in November that was about Kenya’s stance on Bashir.  Bashir has traveled to Kenya before and has not been detained, but back in November a Kenyan court decided that if Bashir ever returns to the country the arrest warrant will be taken seriously and he will be detained.  The article can be found here.


I’ve also been thinking about everything we’ve been learning about and it always seems to be a top-down approach.  Even though some trials have more of a victim-centered approach, there still seems to be a need for a bottom-up approach to help victimized communities cope and move forward.