Archive for November, 2010

The Economist on International Justice and Where It Stands

The Economist, one of my favorite sources for news and analysis, has a great piece on international justice in this week’s edition, that offers a very much on-the-spot assessment on the status of international criminal justice and the challenges ahead.

Although the article starts by explaining that international criminal justice, whether through the International Criminal Court or through the ad hoc tribunals (ICTY or ICTR), has never been busier than recently, it puts forward several arguments that I think are worth going over.

From The Economist Website

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IGAD Summit: It Did Move to Ethiopia Because of the ICC

For some reason, this story keeps catching my interest. Here is the latest development (excerpt):

A Kenyan official today confirmed that the summit will take place in Addis Ababa to prevent Bashir’s presence from overshadowing the meeting.

“We don’t want to take our eyes off the ball. This is a very crucial meeting and we want to extract a commitment from the main actors in Juba and Khartoum that they will respect the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and that they will play their role in ensuring the referendum goes ahead peacefully,” acting Foreign affairs Permanent Secretary Patrick Wamoto was quoted as saying by the ’Daily Nation’ newspaper.

Wamoto said that invitations for the summit in Addis Ababa went out in President Kibaki’s name because Kenya chairs the subcommittee on Sudan in the IGAD.

He further said Kenya would have preferred that the meeting be held in Naivasha where the North-South peace agreement was signed but the risk that Bashir’s presence would provide the main focus of international attention during the meeting forced a rethink.

Needless to say, I do not miss Moses Wetangula.

Many thanks to Uli Zumsande for sending me this via Twitter.

Previous posts on the subject:

Related reading:

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Religion, Ethnicity, and Ethnic Cleansing: Discussion On Anti-Christian Violence in the Middle East

Twitter will never cease to surprise me. How can 140-character messages be so thought-provoking and generate such pertinent and interesting debates? It’s a mystery, but it’s also a fact.

Today’s post relates to one of Daveed Gartenstein-Ross‘s tweets and the debate that followed. Here is the tweet:

Daveed was referring to Juan Cole’s story on the current violent attacks carried out against Christians in the Middle East, most notably in Iraq but also in Egypt. More specifically, Daveed was commenting Mr. Cole’s concluding paragraph:

The attacks on Christians in Iraq are serious, and hold the danger of ethnically cleansing that community. The threats against Copts, while they cannot be discounted, are less credible and may well backfire.

Juan Cole’s conclusion and Daveed’s reaction ask interesting questions for international criminal lawyers – does ethnic cleansing apply to religious group? And if it doesn’t, then does “religious” cleansing amount to genocide?

International lawyers who are familiar with the debates these notions generate within the international legal community will know what Juan Cole and Daveed Gartenstein-Ross have stepped in, namely how complex and endless these debates are, starting with the question of whether ethnic cleansing is not a form of genocide (recently shut down at least in part in the ICJ’s 2007 Decision in the Case Concerning the Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide – §190), and not to mention the general confusion between “social” and “legal” definitions of such crimes.

Without being so ambitious as to engage in these debates, I would like to clarify a certain number of these notions from a legal perspective.

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Shedding Light on Tensions Between the African Union and the ICC

The current tensions between the African Union and the International Criminal Court are often the object of international criminal lawyers’ discussions, and are particularly seized upon by skeptics and critics of the Court. For the Court and its supporters however, it has also been the subject of much reflection and concern, and this up to the highest levels (see ICC President Song’s opening remarks at the ICC-NGO biannual meetings a few weeks ago). Tensions and frustrations are flaring, and there seems to be no end to the standoff between the UN Security Council and the ICC on one side, and the African Union and Sudan on the other.

In the midst of these frictions that clearly threaten the ICC’s credibility in Africa, the Institute for Security Studies published last week an excellent Position Paper titled “An African expert study on the African Union concerns about article 16 of the Rome Statute of the ICC”, written by three African international law experts, namely Dapo Akande, Max du Plessis and Charles Chernor Jalloh.

As the title very clearly suggests, the authors give a very detailed analysis of the African Union’s position towards article 16 of the Rome Statute, in particular as it relates to the current tensions arising from the ICC’s involvement in Darfur.

Before giving some of my personal thoughts on the study’s findings, I first have to say that this report is brilliant and enlightening. It takes a very clear and rigorous approach to the raised questions on the role article 16 has to play, and makes the case for the African Union’s position without falling into the usual anti-West postcolonial political rhetoric that I find too often pollutes the debate and makes the real legal case inaudible. Although some would say there’s nothing new in the study for anyone who has followed AU-ICC relations closely, I still find that it puts a fresh perspective and offers a coherent analysis that puts the difference pieces of the puzzle in order.

I would recommend the reading of this report to anyone interested in understanding the state of ICC-AU relations, and more specifically, the legal aspects of the AU’s position towards the ICC.

I won’t summarize and go over the entire report, but briefly mention three main ideas that I think structure the paper and that particularly shed light on the ongoing conflict: Read the rest of this entry »

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