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The U.N. Secretary General Mangles It

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The U.N. Secretary General Mangles It

Posted by John Norris on February 7, 2009

The U.N. Secretary General Mangles It

The U.N. Secretary General’s latest report on Sudan gets it exactly wrong on the key issue of justice and Darfur. According to Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon:

The International Criminal Court’s actions have a major impact on Sudanese political dynamics and have diverted much attention at a time when outstanding issues related to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement require the parties’ cooperation and renewed commitment. While I am encouraged by the assurances of continued support by the Government, I am also concerned about remarks by some of its officials that the Government may redefine its relationship with UNMIS should an arrest warrant be issued against President al-Bashir.

While I would like to blame this on a very bad speechwriter on the 38th floor at UN headquarters, it is hard not to read this statement as suggesting that the International Criminal Court is somehow distracting the Sudanese President from his hard work of implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Certainly both China and Sudan will read this statement as Ban Ki-Moon taking a very soft line.

What the Secretary General should have said is this: President Bashir’s continuing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur deserve to be prosecuted with the full weight of international law, and are absolutely unacceptable. Indeed, the fact that President Bashir continues to commit the same kinds of abuses in Darfur that led to the long, bloody war between north and south Sudan call into question his credibility on every front, including in implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

I am sure Ban Ki-Moon will issue a correction shortly.