Sunday, August 29, 2010

ICC in the Media, Update #2

This week's media coverage has been dominated by one topic: the travels of Omar al-Bashir, President of Sudan. On August 27, 2010 Omar al-Bashir defied his ICC arrest warrant by visiting Kenya in celebration of its new constitution. Despite urges from the ICC and international community, Kenya failed to uphold its duty as a member state of the ICC to arrest Bashir during his brief visit. In response to this act of defiance, the ICC has reported the incident to member states and the UN Security Council. The Kenyan government initially defended its actions, saying that Bashir was invited because he is a neighbor and inviting him would enhance stability in the region, but the decision has been widely criticized. President Obama has released a statement expressing his "disappointment" that Kenya failed to arrest Bashir, and Kofi Annan has called for Kenya to clarify its position on the ICC in light of its actions. Several members of the Kenyan government, most notably Prime Minister Odinga, have called the decision to invite Bashir 'wrong'. Odinga has stated that Kenya should apologize to the international community, and especially to the ICC, for the incident in acknowledgement of its duties as a state party to the Rome Statute. On the heels of this controversy, reports have surfaced that Bashir will fly to Senegal on Sunday to take part in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). Senegal, like Kenya and Chad before it, is also a member state to the ICC.

Monday, August 23, 2010

ICC in the Media, Update #1

This post is the first in a series of weekly updates of ICC media coverage. This past week there have been a variety of ICC developments in the media, including:

1) On August 18, 2010 Saint Lucia ratified the Rome Statute and joined the International Criminal Court. The Rome Statute will enter into force on November 1 for the nation, making it the 113th member state of the ICC.

2) The U.K.'s recent announcement of increasing trade with Sudan, despite Bashir's indictment by the ICC for atrocity crimes and in defiance of US sanctions, has generated significant backlash. Africa Minister Henry Bellingham has stated that such a policy will undermine international efforts to protect human rights and bring those responsible for the atrocities in Darfur to justice.

3) In the wake of the African Union's decision not to support the ICC's arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir, President of Sudan, opponents of the Court have revived claims of anti-African discrimination by the ICC. However, this argument lacks force because, although all five situations are situated in Africa, three were referred by the countries themselves, one was referred by the UN Security Council, and one was opened by the Prosecutor with the support of the relevant member state. Regardless, some argue that opening a case outside the continent of Africa will be necessary to rebut this argument, but will be politically very challenging for the ICC to do without "stepping on the toes" of its member states.

4) Thomas Lubanga of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is in the midst of the trial appealing his release at the International Criminal Court. The appeals judges recently decided to allow victims of Lubanga's crimes to provide testimonials to the Court, even though they did not share their experiences in the original trial. The victims' submissions are to be presented to the Court today.

5) The Lord's Resistance Army attacks in Uganda, south Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo continue. Since January, approximately 25,000 individuals have been forced from their homes by the LRA. Their leader, Joseph Kony is wanted by the ICC on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. National efforts backed by legislation, such as the US bill passed in May, are said to be important to apprehending Kony bringing him to justice.

Tod Lindberg on Kampala and the Crime of Aggression

Hoover Institution Fellow Tod Lindberg gives a run-down of the results of the Kampala Review Conference in a Foreign Affairs Snapshot: "Whatever its eventual practical effects, what the ICC Review Conference in Kampala really tested was whether the aspirations of those in favor of strengthening the international legal regime could be squared with the concerns of the world's biggest power. The answer was yes."

Friday, August 20, 2010

African Union Releases Decision not to Arrest Al-Bashir

In a recently released decision passed at the conclusion of its bi-annual summit last month, the African Union (AU) declared that AU countries shall not comply with the ICC arrest warrants for Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir.

This decision promotes impunity and stands at odds with the official US position regarding Al-Bashir. Responding to the decision, US Ambassador to the AU Michael Battle stated:

“[…] the African Union’s difference on opinion from the U.S. position does not deter the U.S. from its solid commitment that fair play should take place in all places of the world and people who do atrocious things should be held accountable.”

In addition, AU members South Africa and Botswana have publicly announced that they will still arrest Al-Bashir if he enters their territories.

It should be recalled that all thirty of the AU countries who are members of the ICC have the legal obligation to arrest Al-Bashir and transfer him to the Court to stand trial. Sudan itself, while not a Member State of the ICC, is under a Security Council-derived obligation to cooperate with the Court.

President al-Bashir is currently sought by the ICC for alleged counts of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes committed in the Darfur region of Sudan. Earlier in the month, Chad refused to arrest President al-Bashir during his visit to N'Djamena. President al-Bashir did not attend the AU summit in Kampala, Uganda.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

All you ever wanted to know about "self-execution" and the Rome Statute

In his recent commentary on the UN Human Rights Council and Burma, Mark Leon Goldberg considers how the United States could support the Court without joining it. These days, he points out, when it comes to ratifying international treaties, Obama sure does have his work cut out for him.

While ratification of the Rome Statute in the US might not happen tomorrow, we know what we're heading towards, and have a good map of how to get there. One thing you can be sure of hearing about in the years to come is the issue of "self-execution." While it is a straightforward concept, its theoretical application for US law and the Rome Statute can be tricky: simply put, in the process of US lawmaking, a treaty is "self-executing" if it requires no additional legislation to supplement it. No body has yet determined whether or not the Rome Statute would be self-executing.

For your use as an advocate for the ICC, we've produced a brand new guide to the question of "self-execution." In straight-forward, no nonsense language, we've broken down common questions about the complex process of how a treaty like the Rome Statute would come into effect in the US. See it for yourself here, and let us know what you think!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Seychelles is 112th nation to join the ICC

On August 10, 2010 Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, became the 112th nation to ratify the Rome Statute and become a member state of the International Criminal Court. This move will allow the Rome Statute to enter into force in the country on November 1, 2010. Seychelles joins a growing number of states who openly support the work of the ICC and take part in increasing its jurisdiction and strengthening its goal of ending impunity. To read more about Seychelles ratification of the Statute click here. Photo credit: Nations Online.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

New York City Rallies for Justice!

It may have been 100 degrees in Manhattan on Saturday, July 17th, but that didn't stop supporters of the ICC who converged in Union Square to rally for International Justice Day. See more photos here!

AMICC wants to extend a heartfelt thank you to all who came out to raise their voices and take action. We generated hundreds of letters to President Obama, urging him to finish the U.S. policy on the ICC. Very special thanks to: The Darfur People's Association of NY, Student World Assembly, CASIN, Jivamukti Yoga, and the City of New York