Monday, September 08, 2008

Peace and Justice in Darfur

In the wake of the announcement back in July by the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court that he intended to seek indictments against the Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, I have blogged my general inclination that such a move would be counter-productive. I am on record in several different places that, when there is a tension between the two, I tend to favor efforts to achieve peace than those aimed at creating justice. Today, the chair of the African Union, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, seems to agree with me, "Justice has to be done. Justice must be seen to be done. What the AU is simply saying is that what is critical, what is the priority, is peace. That is priority number one now...We should do the first thing first. On this basis, the AU supports deferral of the indictment." While I agree with Mr. Kikwete's final assessment, I am not encouraged by his support.

Sadly, the African Union hasn't demonstrated either the willingness or the ability to stand up for what is right. If I honestly believed that the AU was going to be involved in creating peace in Darfur, it would be appropriate for the AU to discuss easing off the pressure on Sudan. But given the AU's record (or lack of record) in standing up to Mugabe in Zimbabwe, not to mention its dismal performace in Darfur, one cannot have any faith in the AU to advance anything but its own weakness and blind support of any African dictator. It's one thing to contemplate giving up on justice in order to achieve peace; it's another thing entirely to give up on justice because one is too weak or scared to challenge the miscreant. Sudan's efforts to destroy the Fur people must be stopped, and if the price of that is letting al-Bashir walk free of international charges, so be it. But if peace is not to be achieved, then let justice be done.

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