If the ICC’s mandate were based on popularity…

In a recent post, the Enough blog discussed a poll by WorldPublicOpinion.org that showed there is much popularity for the indictment of Omar al-Bashir among the populations of some African countries — contrary to the position of the AU, which has rejected the ICC’s move.

Maybe African leaders are “out of step” with their populaces, Enough suggested. And in another post, the group questioned the judgment of those leaders for other reasons. An excerpt:

The AU includes a fair number of leaders with a lot of blood on their hands, so it’s no surprise that they would seek to shield themselves from individual prosecution.  But for the victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the institutionalization within the AU of impunity for the likes of Bashir, Mugabe, Deby, Meles, Issayas, Kagame, and Gaddafi is deeply troubling.

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Museveni apologizes

Guess I wasn’t the only one who noticed the political minefield into which a Ugandan junior minister stepped when he suggested Kampala might arrest Bashir during an upcoming visit. Read the Daily Nation article here.

Would Museveni arrest Bashir?

An article in Uganda’s Independent yesterday suggested that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir could face arrest if he visits Kampala for the 2009 Smart Partnership Dialogue. (This happened while International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo was in town, so maybe it’s just lip service.) What I found interesting, though, is that a country that has beef with Sudan over matters totally unrelated to the charges agains Bashir–charges over his involvement in the Darfur conflict–might be in a position of arresting the Sudanese leader. As the article puts it rather innocently: Continue reading

This is not how the Prendergast/Mamdani debate went down…

I had to share this post from change.org since it refers to my Huffington Post piece.

This change.org post is not a very good description of the debate. It sounds like what Prendergast would’ve written had he been allowed to write a press release rather than actually debate Mamdani.

I agonized over the Huffington Post piece — I didn’t want to paint an overly critical picture of Prendergast’s performance just because I admire Mamdani’s critical thinking. And I don’t think I did a bad job — unlike other bloggers out there, I made no mention of Prendergast’s clothing, hairstyle or any other comments irrelevant to the debate. On the other hand, I also did not dwell on the people in the question-and-answer session who attacked Mamdani for a couple of reasons: (1) they seemed to be speaking with an agenda — not necessarily a bad thing, but their comments did not respond to what Mamdani had actually said and (2) in at least a couple of cases the questions were ugly personal attacks against Mamdani that he did not deserve. Speakers accused him of being a liar, a bad Muslim and basically complicit in the killings in Darfur. Whatever else you may say about him, Mamdani certainly does not deserve that kind of slander. I do not think it would have been valuable to repeat those things in my Huffington Post piece. Continue reading

Huffington Post article on Darfur Debate

[I’ll post the link-heavy version of this in a couple of days, I think. Until then, enjoy…]

Is the war in Darfur genocide? Have American activists done anything to help stop the violence? On Tuesday, John Prendergast and Mahmood Mamdani faced off to try to answer these questions.

The buzz on the Columbia campus this week was that the debate would be the Ali-versus-Foreman of intellectual match-ups.

And that’s pretty much how it happened. On Tuesday, John Prendergast, co-chair of the ENOUGH Project and a prominent advocate working with the Save Darfur Coalition, went toe-to-toe with Mahmood Mamdani, a Columbia University professor of government and anthropology who is Save Darfur’s most scathing critic. Read more…

“Genocide-loving Arab hypocrites embrace mass murderer”

Or so we would be led to believe by the New York Times article on Omar al-Bashir’s recent visit to Qatar!

The reason for Arab states’ rejection of the International Criminal Court arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir is very simple, and should be the nut graf here, not the comparison to Gaza. I’ll try to synthesize it. Here goes:

The reason that the ICC case against al-Bashir exists is that the Security Council referred it to the court. The United States is a member of the Security Council and the lead agitator for this case. However, the United States itself has rejected participation in the ICC. This means that Washington is using a tool whose legitimacy it has rejected, to bludgeon a state it considers an enemy in the Global War on Terror. Continue reading

Interesting comparison: Darfur and Rio De Janeiro

The ICC issued its arrest warrant for Sudanese president for Omar al-Bashir today. I won’t add to the cacophony of voices (including in yesterday’s Times: read for and against arguments) weighing in on where this is going. Suffice it to say, there is plenty of hope and maybe even more anxiety about what the arrest warrant means for peace, stability and justice in Sudan.

In poking around for more info on the conflict, though, I came upon an interesting discussion of violent deaths in Darfur in the first three-quarters of 2008. Analyzing UNAMID and Genocide Intervention Network figures, Alex de Waal at the Social Science Resource Council estimates that between 1,200 and 1,500 violent deaths occurred in Darfur between January 1 and September 8, 2008. Between 359 and 720 and civilians died violently in that period. Continue reading