The Global Citizen: African Union
Early this morning, Sudan has endorsed the African Union's "peace road map" to avoid an all-out war with South Sudan. This came after South Sudan had endorsed the AU's plan themselves. The AU's plan includes seven specific steps, including a deadline of this Tuesday to restart negotiations and a three-month grace period after that to agree upon a more concrete solution.
Just yesterday, the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved a resolution that would take "appropriate measures," including nonmilitary sanctions, if Sudan and South Sudan did not resolve all outstanding issues, namely border disputes, uneven divisions of oil revenues, and the citizenship of Sudanese and South Sudan peoples. As previously mentioned, tensions have flared between the two nations just a few months after South Sudan's July 2011 independence, which followed a peace treaty signed in 2005.
Last week, the African Union Chairman Jean Ping made a statement rejecting the International Criminal Court's warrant against Mummar Gaddafi. This news has received extensive coverage in the press, but overlooks the main story: why are Ping and some African states defending a tyrannical leader that threatened to kill civilians indiscriminately, is alleged to have ordered his henchmen to use rape as a weapon, and prohibits the people's right to protest?
Anti-Court sentiments in Africa are a complete departure from its vocal support when the judicial body was created. African nations were instrumental in the negotiations for the creation of the ICC, wanting to use the Court as a platform to bring international attention to problems facing their countries. Thirty-one African states are signatories to the ICC, making it the most well represented continent that agreed the world needed a permanent judicial body to protect human rights and bring justice for victims of state-sponsored violence. These African nations understood that international cooperation is essential to building a safer, more secure world.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's eleven day visit to Africa is intended to affirm the Obama administration's commitment to engage the conflict ridden continent. However, a resolution has recently been issued by the African Union (AU) allowing Sudanese President and wanted war criminal Omar al Bashir to travel throughout Africa with impunity. This could easily cause Secretary Clinton to believe that Africa has no interest in holding human rights abusers responsible for their actions.
The African Union [AU], made up of all 53 African states with the exception of Morocco, issued a resolution on July 3, 2009, stating that they would refuse to cooperate with the indictment of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court [ICC]. This decision stands in contrast with the AU summit meeting held the previous month, where the countries reaffirmed their commitment to the Rome Statute.
The resolution explains that the AU members have decided not to cooperate with the warrant against al-Bashir "in view of the fact that a request of the African Union [to defer al-Bashir's indictment] has never been acted upon." It also cites Article 98 of the Rome Statute, which indicates that "the Court may not proceed with a request for surrender or assistance which would require the requested State to act inconsistently with its obligations under international law with respect to the State or diplomatic immunity of a person or property of a third State, unless the Court can first obtain the cooperation of that third State for the waiver of the immunity."
The resolution approved by the UN Security Council on Wednesday to send peacekeepers to Darfur has been hailed as an extremely positive step forward for the strife-ridden region of western Sudan. This resolution seeks to bolster the current African Union (AU) mission in the region but also creates a hybrid force, adding up to 26,000 UN peacekeepers to the 7,000 strong AU contingent.
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