ICC Issues Arrest Warrants for Darfur Suspects

The International Criminal Court just issued its first set of arrest warrants for two individuals, a janjaweed commander and a government official, accused of war crimes in Darfur. This is a fairly momentous occasion. Since the war in Darfur began, there has yet to be any criminal accountability for the massive violations of international humanitarian law which have defined that conflict.

Now that the warrants have been served, the ICC needs to get their hands on these two for trial in The Hague. The problem here is that the ICC has no Marshall Service of its own. Rather it must rely on the cooperation of member states to carry out the arrests. If the suspects were in Belgium this might not be a problem. But since they are both still in Sudan, their arrest can really only come at the hands of Sudanese authorities. Needless to say, the Sudanese government is reluctant to send the suspects to The Hague. Therefore, for justice to be served the international community must press the government of Sudan to hand over these suspects for trial.

For the simple sake of justice, these two should be put on trial for their role in a conflict that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. But the warrants also serve more immediate goals. One can imagine the Security Council contemplating a new set of sanctions should Khartoum harbor wanted war crimes suspects. After all, the ICC investigation in Darfur was a creation of the Security Council. Now it seems the ICC is giving back by providing the Council with new ammunition in its diplomatic row with Sudan — which still refuses to let a robust peacekeeping force enter Darfur.