Bashir Flight Leaves ICC in Stalemate

By Dr Miša Zgonec-Rožej*

Omar Al Bashir

Omar Al Bashir

South Africa’s failure to arrest the Sudanese president is the latest incident in a troubled relationship between the court and African states.

Sudan President Omar Al-Bashir was allowed to leave South Africa on 15 June  in defiance of a temporary order issued a day earlier by the High Court in Pretoria, which required South African authorities to prevent him from leaving the country until an application submitted by a human rights group was heard by the court. Just hours after Bashir’s departure from South Africa after attending the African Union (AU) summit in Johannesburg, the court ordered that President Al-Bashir be arrested and surrendered to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

As a state party to the ICC, South Africa thereby breached its obligation under the Rome Statute to execute the ICC arrest warrant issued against the president. This highlights an ongoing problem for the ICC: without states’ cooperation, and lacking its own enforcement mechanisms, the court is forced to leave cases suspended indefinitely.

 Lack of immunity

President Bashir has been sought by the ICC for his alleged involvement in genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during the conflict in Darfur.  Sudan is not a party to the Rome Statute which established the ICC, but the ICC has jurisdiction as a consequence of a 2005 referral to it by the UN Security Council of the situation in Darfur. The African Union, however, has continually opposed the prosecution by the ICC of heads of states during their term of office. The AU has requested the suspension of proceedings against President Bashir and called upon AU members not to arrest and surrender him. Continue reading

Russia Vetoes UN Resolution to Call Srebrenica Massacre as ‘Genocide’

Srebrenica MassacreRussia has vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution that would have described the Srebrenica massacre as “genocide”.

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said adopting it “would be counter-productive, would lead to greater tension in the region”.

Four members of the Security Council abstained while the remainder voted in favour.

The motion had angered Serbia, which rejects the term. Serbia does not have a seat on the Security Council, and had asked ally Russia to block the resolution.

The Serbian President, Tomislav Nikolic, called it a “great day” for his country.

The resolution had been drafted to mark the 20th anniversary of the atrocity, which came amid the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia into independent states.

During the Bosnian War, which saw Serbia-backed Bosnian Serb forces fighting the Muslim-led Bosnian government, thousands seeking shelter at what was supposed to be a UN refuge were slaughtered.

The resolution said that “acceptance of the tragic events at Srebrenica as genocide is a prerequisite for reconciliation”.

Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations criticized Russia’s veto, qualifying Russia’s veto as heart-breaking for the families and saying that “it is a further stain on this council’s record.” She argued amongst other things that the crime of genocide is “the crime that the United Nations Genocide Convention was written and ratified to prevent and punish. The crime of genocide in Srebrenica is what the genocide convention — which all of us have ratified — exists to prevent and punish. Reconciliation cannot be built by burying the dark parts of one’s history, however unsettling they may be.”

The Ambassador also highlighted the numerous testimonies which took place before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), describing the atrocities and leading the Yugoslavia Tribunal to convict numerous people of genocide in relation to the Srebrenica killings.

Twenty Years Since Srebrenica: No Reconciliation, We’re Still At War

by Refik Hodzic*

Image: TOPSHOTS-BOSNIA-WAR-SREBRENICA-ANNIVERSARYRight now, people in the Balkan region are still living a war, this time for the ‘truth’ about ethnic superiority that will shape the attitudes of future generations.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is about to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide – a somber moment of remembrance, seen by many as an opportunity to promote the notion of reconciliation between the country’s ethnic groups. The United Kingdom seems to be the leading proponent of such an approach, with a draft resolution commemorating Srebrenica already circulating among the Security Council members and the ‘interested states,’ primarily Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.

However, a brief glance at the public discourse around the anniversary paints a very different picture, one of no political agenda for reconciliation, of no social project aimed at overcoming the legacy of the conflict from the ‘90s, of a continuing struggle for ethnic dominance. Indeed, can we constructively talk about reconciliation in a country still gripped by war?

It is not a war for territory anymore, with the cannons having fallen silent 20 years ago with the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords, but it is a war nonetheless. A war fought by ‘other means,’ a vicious fight for the dominant narrative of the past, for the ‘truth’ as the foundation of political projects largely rooted in wartime goals of ethnic separation and dominance. This war is mainly fought out in political arenas, but also in the media, in classrooms, churches and mosques, at family dinner tables, and its consequences are bound to have a lasting impact on the region’s stability. Continue reading

Book Launch : Evaluating Transitional Justice – Accountability and Peacebuilding in Post-Conflict Sierra Leone

Evaluating-Transitional-JusticeDemonstrating groundbreaking analysis, this is the first major study to evaluate the transitional justice programme in Sierra Leone. Rather than focusing on a single mechanism, the authors examine how the Special Court, Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), local justice initiatives and reparations programme interacted.

Contributors to the book include the Prosecutor of the Special Court and one of the Commissioners from the TRC, alongside a range of experts on transitional justice, on international law and on Sierra Leone.

The authors consider the political and normative drivers of transitional justice and the lessons that the Sierra Leone programme stands to offer other post-conflict situations.

This edited volume makes a significant contribution to the field by demonstrating how contextual knowledge should be used alongside normative standards when evaluating transitional justice.

iLawyer Wayne Jordash QC wrote the chapter called “Comparing Fairness and Due Process in the RUF and CDF cases: Consequences for the Legacy of the Special Court for Sierra Leone”

If you wish to order the book, click here.