Obama Will “Engage” on Sudan (And Ignore the ICC)

Obama Will “Engage” on Sudan (And Ignore the ICC)

The Obama Administration is becoming famous for their Friday night news dumps (deficit reports are always on Fridays).  So here is another one sure to anger some parts of their base, but which is carefully buried while everyone is watching the Yankees beat up on the Angels.

The Obama administration has formulated a new policy for Sudan that proposes working with that country’s government, rather than isolating it as President Obama had pledged to do during his campaign.

In an interview, President Obama’s special envoy to Sudan, Maj. Gen. J. Scott Gration, said that the policy, to be announced Monday by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, would make use of a mix of “incentives and pressure” to put an end to the human rights abuses that have left millions of people dead and displaced while burningDarfur into the American conscience.

General Gration said the administration would set strict time lines for President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan to fulfill the conditions of a 2005 peace agreementthat his government signed with rebels in southern Sudan; under the agreement, a proposal for independence for southern Sudan will be put to a vote in 2011.

It looks like Gration has won out over Sudan hawk Susan Rice in this interagency battle.  And this sounds like the least worst policy, given our options, but it is striking how it departs from the high-minded and hawkish language that both Obama and his VP Joe Biden used in their campaign, and their criticism of President Bush for not doing enough to isolate the regime (Biden wanted a no-fly zone and a NATO intervention!).

But even more striking:  the Obama Administration appears ready to make a deal with Sudan, without insisting on compliance with the ICC’s arrest warrants for Sudan’s President and other government officials. As a non-party to the ICC, this actually gives the U.S. more legal and policy room to make a deal.  But will the Obama Administration now move to have the prosecution deferred altogether?  They may have to (but I’m sure that story will be held back until at least the college football playoffs).

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Africa, Courts & Tribunals, Featured, International Criminal Law, International Human Rights Law
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