Accountability and Genocide: al-Bashir Travels to South Africa

By Alexis Herr

 

Newspapers around the globe have inked Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir’s name into their pages this week as the press reports on the Sudanese president’s free travel to South Africa. The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Bashir on March 4, 2009 for 7 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes and on July 12, 2010, added 3 counts of genocide for the ethnic cleansing of the Zaghawa, Fur, and Masalit tribes. South Africa was the 23rd state to ratify the Rome Statue in November 2000–under which the United Nations (UN) created the ICC–thus it is required by law to help bring Bashir to justice. South Africa’s failure to arrest Bashir while he attended an African Union (AU) submit in South Africa, however, brings into question the legitimacy of the ICC and South Africa’s commitment to it.

 

South Africa is not the only UN member nation to allow Bashir into its boarders. Bashir Watch reports that in the past 10 years, Bashir has traveled to the following countries:

 

China

Egypt

Eritrea

Ethiopia

Iran

Iraq

Kuwait

Libya

Qatar

Saudi Arabia

South Sudan

 

The collective failure to enforce the ICC arrest warrant weakens the UN’s ability to punish perpetrators and prevent future atrocities. Without enforced accountability for one’s crimes, what will prevent future tyrants from committing genocide? Without enforced accountability, what will prevent other UN nations from allowing Bashir into their boarders?

 

While the legitimacy of the ICC in SA is at question, SA President Zuma’s remarks earlier this year clarify his economic interest in Sudan. At the conclusion of talks with Bashir in Sudan, President Zuma remarked, “We have noted with great satisfaction the growing cooperation between our two countries as evidenced by the existence of sixteen (16) bilateral agreements in a number of fields including trade, agriculture, defence [ibid], policing, arts and culture, social development, scientific cooperation, to mention but a few.” In addition to SA’s economic interest in Sudan, Zuma also commented upon the dire situation in South Sudan: “During our discussions, we also exchanged views on matters of peace and security in the Continent, paying particular focus on the ongoing conflict in South Sudan. To this end, we have committed ourselves to playing our part to help resolve the crisis. The people of South Sudan need peace, security, stability and development.” I am of the opinion that in order to create stability and peace in Africa, holding mass murders accountable for genocide is key.

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1 Comment on Accountability and Genocide: al-Bashir Travels to South Africa

  1. Immediately after the end of apartheid, South Africa became the Rainbow Nation, a hopeful model for the world of a diverse democracy that was successfully minimizing the violence that often occurred in other nations undergoing such a profound change.

    After Nelson Mandela’s presidency, SA has been drifting away from being the Rainbow Nation towards becoming a plutocracy and kleptocracy dominated by a single political party. SA’s noncooperation with the ICC is yet another symptom of that ongoing tragedy.

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