Indeed it is the first time since its setting up in July 2002 and a historic moment in the annals of International jurisprudence that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant to Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, a sitting head of state over his alleged war crimes in Darfur. This also happens to be a watershed when it comes to the role of the International Community and the UN Security Council as the ICC is represented by a majority of countries who are signatory to it, including India as it took it upon itself the responsibility of being the conscience keeper to the global comity of nations.
Incidentally when the Court spokeswoman Laurence Blairon during a Press Conference mentioned about the warrant for al-Bashir for alleged "war crimes and crimes against humanity" committed in Sudan's western Darfur region the Southern Sudan leader Salva Kiir was appealing for calm and stability in the Africa's largest country.
The horror of Darfur ironically enough, has somehow eluded the conscience of our country as Bashir is charged on five counts of crimes against humanity and two of war crimes, but will not face charges concerning genocide. The irony is that the Sudanese authorities have to comply with the arrest warrant against their own President otherwise it would be referred to the U.N. Security Council.
It was in the aftermath of wide spread international outrage that the Court's chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo had in last July filed an application asking the court for an arrest warrant for the Sudanese president alleging he had evidence to support charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Darfur region of Sudan that may have taken a toll of over 300,000 mostly women and children since March 2003. The prosecutor accused Bashir of allegedly masterminding the elimination of three non-Arab ethnic groups in Darfur with the intention of genocide by his forces both covertly and overtly.
There are ominous signals for the International Community and India in particular as the ICC is the world's first permanent international tribunal to try individuals for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity when states are unable or unwilling to do so. The African Union and the Arab League and certain other states like Egypt had earlier warned that the warrant could destabilize the region, worsen the Darfur conflict and threaten an already troubled peace deal between northern Sudan and the semi-autonomous south. There is also the spectre of violent protests in Sudan and elsewhere that may lead to further bloodshed and retaliation.
Thus the International community may be well advised to strengthen the peace process and supporting post-conflict reconstruction in the Sudan, no wonder that it portends to be an ominous warning that the collapse of the Sudan will have dire consequences for the region and the world.
Perhaps a lesson or two for India as it should not view the ICC move as a dogmatic crisis of sorts, considering the fuzzy foreign policy of decisive indecisiveness followed by our South Block mandarins on matters concerning the afro-arab world but rather an opportunity to consolidate and further the peace, justice and stability process by asserting India’s influence and leadership in the region.