Foreign Policy Blogs

ICC Defied: Africa will not co-operate on Sudan

On Friday the African Union (AU) announced it will not co-operate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in enforcing its March decision to charge Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Under the Rome Statute establishing the court, any party to the statute is required to arrest al-Bashir if he enters their territory; Sudan itself is not a signatory.

Friday’s resolution runs directly counter to that obligation, with AU member states advising that they “shall not co-operate… relating to immunities for the arrest and surrender of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to the ICC,” possibly allowing al-Bashir to travel with impunity throughout the continent.

The resolution does not ask the 30 African signatories to entirely end their relationship with the ICC, but nonetheless is a setback for the power of the court – both in general and in relation to Sudan in particular.

In general – because it is a dangerous precedent to have treaty parties selectively flaunting their obligations; and in particular – because in the meantime, Al-Bashir, with a warrant on his head for alleged murder, rape and torture in a conflict that has claimed the lives of 300,000 Sudanese, continues to rule.



Lisa Gambone

Lisa Gambone is a NY attorney who has provided pro bono work for Human Rights Watch, the ICTR Prosecution and Lawyers Without Borders, first while practicing at a large law firm in London, now independently. She has also spent time at the Caprivi high treason trials in Namibia and at human rights organizations in Belfast, London and New York. She has helped edit and provided research for several publications, including case books on the law of the ad hoc tribunals and a critique of the Iraqi Anfal Trial. She holds a JD specializing in International Law from Columbia University, an MA in International Economics and European Studies from Johns Hopkins SAIS, and a BA in International Relations - Security & Diplomacy from Brown University. Here, she covers war crimes and international justice.