The Trouble with ICC Arrest Warrants

by Roger Alford

The New York Times article today on Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony confirms concerns that the ICC may be prolonging the war in Uganda. The article detailed Kony’s meeting with UN under secretary general for humanitarian affairs Jan Egeland. But the most interesting aspect of the article is that it underscored the difficult tension between securing peace and indicting war criminals. “The stickiest issue, Mr. Egeland said, was the arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court against Mr. Kony and four of his commanders. Mr. Kony has said he will never surrender as long as he faces the risk of being arrested. The Ugandan government has said that it will support dropping the charges, but that Mr. Kony must surrender first. The impasse frustrates many Ugandans, who are sick of war and say they would rather the charges go away than the war grind on.”

In light of the complementarity doctrine, how is it that the rebel leaders will surrender if the charges are dropped, the Ugandan government wants the charges dropped if it will bring peace, the Ugandan people desperately want the war to end, and still there is no peace? It would seem that the ICC is acting prematurely and without sufficient regard to the complementarity doctrine if the ICC arrest warrants pose the major impediment to peace.

http://opiniojuris.org/2006/11/13/the-trouble-with-icc-arrest-warrants/

7 Responses

  1. ‘complementarity doctrine,’ yes?

  2. Patrick,

    Yes, That was a typo. Fixed it. Thanks.

    Roger

  3. Roger,

    It is a Monday, and I don’t want to be annoying, but as my students often don’t know the difference between ‘compliment’ and ‘complement’….

  4. If the charges are indeed dropped, is there any reason the ICC could not file charges again later? I’m sure, if the prosecutorial will is there, more war crimes will become apparent as the conflict ends and more survivors come forward.

  5. Matthew,

    I think the idea is that amnesty would be guaranteed by the government in exchange for peace, and the rebel leaders would like that amnesty to apply to prosecutions in Uganda and abroad. Couldn’t domestic amnesty laws fit within the rubric of the complementarity doctrine?

    Roger Alford

  6. Good points, but the revocations of the amnesty of Pinochet and the assumed amnesty for Charles Taylor will probably make Kony think twice about trusting anyone.

  7. Good points, but the revocations of the amnesty ty of Pinochet and the assumed amnesty for Charles Taylor will probably make Kony think twice about trusting anyone.

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