Monday, February 27, 2006

International Law, Procedural Justice, and Darfur

Unsurprisingly, the UN Security Council is divided over whether to impose sanctions on individual members of the Sudanese government as punishment for Sudan's actions in Darfur. While the US, the UK, France, and Denmark have called for punishing individuals, such as the interior and defense ministers and Sudan's national intelligence chief, Russia and China, joined by Qatar, have blocked any action. Russia at least argued that the sanctions could undermine peace efforts, both in Darfur and with the rebels in the south of Sudan. However, "China, which relies on Sudan for oil and opposes U.N. sanctions as a matter of policy, and Qatar, the council's sole Arab member, called the experts' evidence unreliable and recommended a fresh start in compiling sanctions targets."

Lately, I have been castigating the international community for its adherence to procedural rules that undermine the pursuit of justice. And this is a perfect example. The veto power in the Security Council was designed to protect sovereignty and, hopefully, interstate war on a large scale. But that veto undermines the ability of the UN to pursue justice. It is time for the US and NATO to take action into their own hands, either by imposing their own sanctions or by using military force as in Kosovo. If the international community has any credibility when it claims to care about justice and protection of human rights and life, it cannot let the antiquated procedural rules of the UN prevent action being taken to save Darfur.

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