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Argument: ICC is the best tool for fighting genocide and war crimes

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Roger Cohen. "A Court for a New America". New York Times. 3 Dec. 2008 - After the terrible decade of the 1990s, with its genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda and the loss there of a million lives while the United States and its allies dithered, it is unconscionable that America not stand with the institution that constitutes the most effective legal deterrent to such crimes.

The International Criminal Court has filed charges against alleged war criminals in Congo, Central African Republic, Uganda and Sudan since it started work in 2002. The first trial, involving a Congolese warlord, Thomas Lubanga, is set to begin in January.

But it is in Sudan that the incoherence of American policy toward the court has been most evident. The United States is against impunity for the genocidal crimes in Darfur, yet it is not a member of the court seeking to prosecute those responsible.

The court has issued arrest warrants for a former Sudanese government minister, Ahmad Harun, and for Ali Kushayb, a leader of the government-backed janjaweed militia. In July, it requested an arrest warrant for Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, on charges of genocide, but judges are still reviewing whether to push ahead with the prosecution.

When I asked Brooke Anderson, Obama’s chief national security spokeswoman, about policy toward the court, I received this e-mail response: “President-elect Obama strongly supports the I.C.C.’s efforts to investigate and prosecute those responsible for atrocities in Sudan.”

That’s a good start and a good signal.


Amnesty International on the International Criminal Court - For more than half a century since the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials, states have largely failed to bring to justice those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. With the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the world has begun to fulfill the post-World War II promise of "never again." The ICC is the world's first permanent, international judicial body capable of bringing perpetrators to justice and providing redress to victims when states are unable or unwilling to do so. This represents a major stride for international justice.

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