A Warrant of Hypocrisy

When the International Criminal Court recently upheld its chief prosecutor's request to issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir, reaction mainly divided between those who hailed the move as a great step for international justice and those who condemned it as colonialism. Both positions are hopelessly buried in intellectual and moral fog.

LONDON – Earlier this month, the International Criminal Court (ICC) upheld the request of the court’s chief prosecutor to issue an arrest warrant for Omar el-Bashir, the President of Sudan, charging him with war crimes and crimes against humanity. Bashir responded by expelling foreign aid agencies looking after the refugee camps in Darfur.

This is the first time that a sitting head of state has been indicted for war crimes, with reaction around the world mainly divided between those who hailed the move as a great step for international justice and those who condemned it as colonialism. Both positions are hopelessly buried in intellectual and moral fog.

The warrant was no leap forward. From the legal point of view, it makes no difference whether the accused is a sitting or former head of state. But it makes an enormous practical difference that an incumbent ruler can do a lot more future damage to his people than an ex-ruler, and therefore should be given no incentive to retaliate.

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