France and Darfur: Dirty deals over genocide or pragmatism for peace?

September 23, 2008

Sarkozy at U.N. General Assembly 

French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that if Sudan changes its behavior and actively supports growing international calls for peace in Darfur, Paris would back suspending any indictments the International Criminal Court (ICC) issues against Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

Sarkozy made clear there would be strings attached.  In a speech to the U.N. General Assembly, the French leader said Sudan would have to “radically” alter its policy towards Darfur, where international experts say at least 200,000 people have died since 2003. It would have to remove a cabinet minister indicted for war crimes in Darfur from the Khartoum government and stop delaying the deployment of international peacekeepers.

Not everyone will laud Sarkozy’s comments on the opening day of the General Assembly.

The New York-based rights watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) has already chided the African Union Peace and Security Council for calling on world powers to use their power to put the ICC investigation of Bashir on hold to avoid undermining the stalled peace process in Darfur.

“A suspension of the investigation would deny justice to the thousands of victims in Darfur,” said Georgette Gagnon, HRW’s Africa director. “The African Union should reaffirm its commitment to seeing justice done for atrocities and support for the ICC in Darfur.”

According to Western diplomats whispering in the corridors of the United Nations, France is not the only western country that could imagine invoking Article 16 of the ICC statute, which allows the U.N. Security Council to suspend court investigations or indictments for up to one year at a time.  They say Britain may also be open to the idea, though London would have an even longer list of conditions – terms that Khartoum might find very unpalatable.

Some say Washington, which has refused to become a party to the ICC, could also be persuaded.

Privately, some Western diplomats have called the threat of a humiliating ICC prosecution of Bashir an ideal club to beat him over the head with as they try to get the full U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force on the ground in Darfur.  More than a year after the Security Council approved deploying the force, known as UNAMID, only around 10,000 of the 26,000 troops and police have arrived in Sudan.

UNAMID peacekeepers in Darfur

None of this is good news for ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who has run into snags with another case and has come under fire for his retaliatory dismissal of an ICC employee. Moreno-Ocampo is currently in New York meeting with African and other officials to defend his drive to indict Bashir, whom he accuses of masterminding a campaign of genocide in western Sudan.

He says Bashir’s war crimes began in 2003 and that his orders led to the deaths of 35,000 people outright, at least another 100,000 through starvation and disease and forced 2.5 million from their homes.

What do you think?  Is Sarkozy trying to barter away justice for the victims of genocide in Darfur? Or is a stay of execution for Bashir a small price to pay in the interests of peace?


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It is pointless to imagine that peace will be achieved by delaying the ICC indctment of President al Bashir. There is no way that the southerners will vote to maintain Sudan’s unity if they believe that the Khartoum regime is permitted by the international community to get away with murder and as soon as it is clear that the south intends to secede the entire peace deal will be compromised.

Posted by sudanwatcher | Report as abusive

Darfur is another example of the war between westerner and asian oil companies in african soil. Darfur is an effect, we know that the cause is foreign oil companies that fight in african villager in order to occupy this african area and take freely the oil. To reach their goals these international oil companies use the uneducated african young people, and we know the consequences… In this condition the ICC is one of the instruments used by international oil companies to ridiculize, humiliate and intimidate african ” leaders ” (puppets of multinational lobbists).

Posted by Kiziton | Report as abusive

For the majority of the Sudanese people the crux of the matter is how to achieve peace in Darfur as has been achieved in southern and eastern Sudan and also how to help the peaceful transer of power i:e by elections .The Thanks to the Nivasha agreement that the south is now enjoying peace. And no body is seeking revenge now.The word justice should be taken seriously it should not be used as a tool of “humiliation”.The Security Council should respond posiively to the demand of Africans to defer the issue and seek peace and reconciliation in Sudan.

Posted by John Makepeace | Report as abusive

[…] Adapted from this article: click […]

Posted by French president Sarkozy offers solution? « DarfurWire NEWs | Report as abusive

It is a crime committed by uncivilised africans based in Khartoum where corruption is their way of life against another african group in a different area.

Posted by CWYONG | Report as abusive

United nations must unite and take actions against the barbarians based in Khartoum for justice sake. Never ever give face to uncivilised barbarians based in Khartoum. Sudan is also ranked top 10 in terms of corruption in the world.

Posted by CWYONG | Report as abusive

[…] is alleging the indictment is undermining prospects for peace in Darfur. Meanwhile, France has expressed willingness to trade impunity for […]

Posted by War Crimes » Blog Archive » Al-Bashir Indictment In Trouble | Report as abusive