Sudan

note

Given the conflicting and imprecise* dispatches on reports that Palestine seeks to join a raft of treaties including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the item above, just posted on the U.N. media website, is welcome. It states in full:

Notes to correspondents
Note to Correspondents in response to questions on documents submitted by the Permanent Observer of Palestine

New York, 2 January 2015

In response to questions, the Spokesman had the following to say about Palestinian submission of documents:

The Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations in New York has transmitted to the Secretariat copies of documents relating to the accession of Palestine to 16 international conventions and treaties in respect of which the Secretary-General performs depositary functions. These include the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The original versions of these documents were delivered on 1 January 2015 to the Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the PLO and the PA. The documents are being reviewed with a view to determining the appropriate next steps.

 

* E.g., it has not been possible to “sign” the Rome Statute since Israel and the United States became the last 2 states to do so, on Dec. 31, 2000. Both of those latter (and with them, Sudan) later attempted to “unsign,” an act previously unknown to international law. None of the three has since ratified.

invitation-235x300The United States has been invited to place indicted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir should he decide to visit New York City.
Earlier today, a panel of International Criminal Court judges issued its Decision Regarding Omar Al-Bashir’s Potential Travel to the United States of America, in response to a request from the ICC Office of the Prosecutor. The decision concedes that as a nonparty to the ICC, the United States has no treaty-based obligation to arrest Bashir should he attend the U.N. General Assembly session, as he has said he wishes to do. (My prior post here; Mark Kersten’s policy analysis here.) Pre-Trial Chamber II (the same panel that excused Nigeria in the decision discussed here) nevertheless:

‘a) Reminds the United States of America of the two outstanding warrants of arrest issued against Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir and the requests for arrest and surrender transmitted by the Registry on 6 March 2009 and 21 July 2010;
‘b) Invites the competent authorities of the United States of America to arrest Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir and surrender him to the Court, in the event he enters their territory.’

The decision puts the ball in another court, that of the United States.

bashirFor years, a fixture in my International Criminal Law class has been “Where’s Omar?”, a Waldo-inspired examination of all the places that Sudan’s President has visited since the International Criminal Court first issued an arrest warrant against Omar al-Bashir on March 4, 2009.

Though he’s wanted on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes alleged to have occurred in the western Sudanese region of Darfur (prior posts), President Bashir has traveled to numerous countries, including ICC states parties like Kenya and nonparty states like post-Gaddafi Libya. And though the Darfur situation came to the court by referral from the U.N. Security Council, the Council’s never reprimanded host states; indeed, one of the Council’s five permanent members, China, honored Bashir with a state visit in 2011. (credit for AP photo) Soon the United States may become the second P-5 member in that group: Bashir’s requested a visa to attend the just-opened session of the U.N. General Assembly, and as Julian Ku posted at Opinio Juris, an international agreement affords the United States little discretion to deny the request.

Notably, less than 2 weeks ago a Pre-Trial Chamber of ICC judges gave Nigeria a pass for admitting Bashir within its borders last July — as stated in the Chamber’s decision, “‘ostensibly to attend'” a special African Union summit on HIV/AIDS and other diseases. The judges noted that Nigeria had not invited Bashir, and further that Bashir made a “‘sudden departure'” before the summit ended. The decision suggested that this exit was linked to concern that Nigeria might execute the arrest warrant – in the words of the decision,

‘officials of relevant bodies and agencies of […] Nigeria were considering the necessary steps to be taken in respect of his visit in line with Nigeria’s international obligations.’

We’ll soon know whether Bashir will add U.S. entry and exit stamps to his busy passport.