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• Africa: Another chance to help Darfur
Africa: Another chance to help Darfur
From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch March 31, 2005
Today could mark a turning point in U.N. Security Council action against the butchering in the Darfur region of Sudan. Or it could mark still more world indifference to the slaughter.
The Security Council is set to vote today on France’s resolution to authorize the International Criminal Court to prosecute war crimes in Darfur.
But once again the United States seems ready to thwart this sensible move. The Bush administration has objected to ICC intervention – in fact, to its very existence – on the grounds that the court could be used to prosecute the United States military or its citizens. President George W. Bush has little ground to stand on in resisting an ICC role in Sudan. Nearly 100 nations have signed the Rome Treaty establishing the ICC.
Instead of calling in the ICC, the administration is urging that sanctions be imposed on Sudan. Never mind that the sanctions option has proved futile. Former U.N. Ambassador John C. Danforth made headway in ending a civil war between the government and rebels in the south of the country. But he had no success in convincing the Security Council to impose tough sanctions against Sudan for the violence in the Darfur region in northwest Sudan. China, a chief importer of oil from Sudan, is certain to continue to stand in the way of sanctions. So will Russia, which exports weapons to Sudan.
Sudan, meanwhile, is stalling. On Monday, its justice minister announced that the government had just begun arresting military and security officials accused of slaughtering civilians, raping women and burning villages in Darfur. This announcement was timed mainly to stave off tough Security Council action today.
The ICC is tailor-made for situations like those in Darfur. It already is in operation in The Hague and has jurisdiction over genocide and war crimes committed after July 1, 2002.
Mr. Bush needs to put this crisis in perspective. Some 180,000 people have been slaughtered and another 2 million have fled ahead of raids by the Janjaweed militias, which have wiped out non-Arab villages.
American and U.N. indifference to these destabilizing events would not bode well for peace and security in Africa.
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