Marriage of convenience

"Marriage of convenience" Continued...

Issue: "Return of the Lion," May 17, 2008

Bellinger urged members of the court to accept the United States' right to opt out of the treaty but to find common ground: "The sooner both sides respectfully agree to disagree about the ICC as an institution, the sooner we will be able to focus on finding practical and constructive ways to cooperate in advancing our common goals."

One of those common goals is in Sudan, where the ICC has issued an arrest warrant for Ahmad Harun, the country's former interior minister. Harun is accused of crimes against humanity for financing, arming, and inciting the Janjaweed militia to mass killings, rapes, and displacement of civilians.

Sudanese government officials in Khartoum have not responded to the ICC warrant for Harun issued over a year ago. Instead, they've named Harun state minister for humanitarian affairs.

Justice delayed

ICC indictments have halted but not finished Uganda's long-running war

By Mindy Belz


At the headquarters of the Lord's Resistance Army, its spiritual and military leader, Joseph Kony, is rumored to have more than 40 wives. Kony built a 22-year insurgency against Uganda's military and its president, Yoweri Museveni, by drafting child soldiers and practicing sexual enslavement, mutilations, and killings. His campaign of cruelty, carried out largely in the border areas between northern Uganda and southern Sudan, led terrorized Ugandans to inaugurate the famous "night commutes" so that they could sleep in large compounds where they felt safe from kidnapping and death at the rebel cult's hands.

For his crimes against humanity (which the U.S. government estimates have killed over 12,000 and led to the kidnapping of 25,000 or more), Kony and four other LRA leaders-Vincent Otti, Okot Odiambo, Dominic Ongwen, and Raska Lukwiya-were indicted in 2006 by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Lukwiya and Odiambo have reportedly been killed since. Suddenly, Kony announced his intent to participate in peace negotiations. When international mediators arrived later that year, they found the war criminals dressed in business suits and ready to deliberate.

In a twist of historic irony, former Sudanese rebels became chief mediators for the ensuing peace talks. In September 2007 an LRA spokesman said "life was returning to normal" in northern Uganda and his army was ready for an end to the brutal conflict. Negotiators shuttled between Juba, the capital of South Sudan, and Kony's hiding place in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In February of this year, both sides agreed that LRA war crimes should be handled by Ugandan courts. Uganda agreed to ask the ICC to drop its warrants once a final deal was in place. Kony demanded that the warrants be dropped as a condition for sealing the deal-setting up a diplomatic gridlock in which a scheduled April 10 peace-signing never happened. And monitors now report renewed abductions and violence in northern Uganda.

The ICC shows no sign of dropping the LRA charges. Chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told a conference marking the ICC's 10th anniversary in Chicago "we are not doing enough" to arrest Kony, adding that if the LRA leader is arrested, "we will have peace tomorrow." Moreno-Ocampo blames member states for not taking responsibility to capture Kony. But therein lies the dilemma of ICC jurisdiction: Even among his enemies, Kony remains a party to peace talks.

Jamie Dean
Jamie Dean

Jamie lives and works in North Carolina, where she covers the political beat and other topics as national editor for WORLD Magazine. Follow Jamie on Twitter @deanworldmag.


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