The dangerous pretensions of the International Criminal Court 0

 Daniel Hannan writes in the Telegraph:

A fearful blow has been struck against national sovereignty. The International Criminal Court has launched a prosecution against a head of state – a state, moreover, that has not signed the ICC treaty. International human rights apparatchiks are enjoying the warm glow of self-righteousness; but they have just made the world a darker and more dangerous place.

Don’t get me wrong: the man they have arraigned, Omar al-Bashir, is an unutterable swine. Having seized power in a military putsch, he has maintained himself in office by displacing and terrorising millions of his citizens. Some 300,000 Sudanese are estimated to have been killed in his civil wars and, while the government does not bear sole responsibility for each of those deaths, it must be reckoned the worst offender.

How, then, could I possibly object to bringing such a monster to trial? If the defunct Sudanese legal system can’t deal with him, shouldn’t someone else?

Well, maybe: but this will mean conquering Sudan. Bashir is the head of state, the supreme repository and exemplar of Sudanese sovereignty. Indicting him amounts to a declaration of war. Now there may well be an argument for military intervention in Sudan. Quite apart from having presided over the genocidal purges in Darfur, Bashir has given the rest of the world ample cross-border provocation. He turned his country into a base for terrorists of every stripe: the Ugandan child-kidnappers of the Lord’s Resistance Army, Carlos the Jackal, even Osama bin Laden. I’m not a big fan of invading other countries but, if we’re going to pick on one, Sudan is a pretty good candidate.

Except that the international community is emphatically not proposing an invasion. The prosecution is a narcissistic act, intended to make liberal internationalists feel superior and to bolster the ICC’s damaged reputation (its first case, against a Congolese militia leader, has just collapsed) rather than to ameliorate the lot of the Sudanese. Declaring war without meaning to wage it – which is what the indictment means – will simply deter the ghastly Khartoum regime from reaching any kind of accommodation with its opponents. Rather like an insistence on unconditional surrender, the prosecution will serve chiefly to make the autocrats more determined.

That’s the problem with these international law codes. By definition, the only countries on which they have any effect are democracies: tyrants simply ignore them. For the sake of being rude about Bashir – without any practical consequences – the ICC will substantively and genuinely diminish the sovereignty of free nations

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, July 16, 2008

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