The ICC’s indictment of Sudan’s president Bashir last week was both badly timed and hypocritical, critics say: if the key world powers like the US, Russia and India aren’t even signed up to the ICC, and the court has so far indicted only African leaders, what’s the point in even having it? Worse still, indictments can get in the way of peace negotiations, and Clive Stafford-Smith, director of Reprieve, says that the double standards applied by the ICC “breeds hatred around the world.”
This may all be true, concedes Polly Botsford in her web exclusive this week. But put quite simply, the system we have now is better than nothing. Despite its many flaws, it has established a crucial principle: that leaders, from Cambodia to the former Yugoslavia to Sudan, are accountable for their crimes. And the only way to make international justice fairer and more effective is for more countries to support it. The new regime in Washington has already signalled that it is prepared to take international law more seriously. Now, says Botsford, others must do the same.
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