The Global Citizen: mkaplan
For the past two and a half years, a big part of my job at Global Solutions has involved managing the work of our political action committee, Global Solutions PAC. I've met with congressional candidates from around the country, listened to their views on foreign policy, recommended endorsements and contributions to their campaigns, and attended fundraisers to show our support. It's been a great experience, and one that has taught me quite a lot.
Now, as I prepare to leave Global Solutions and embrace new opportunities, I look back on my time here and have a few thoughts and memories I'd like to share with you.
It doesn't take a genius or political pundit to know that most Americans are not primarily focused on foreign policy this year as they decide which candidates they want to send to the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives. Most voters, understandably, are more focused on jobs and the economy. However, there is plenty of evidence that voters do want to see a U.S. foreign policy that remains engaged outside our borders and works with allies and international institutions to build a better world. For example, according to a recent survey by the Better World Campaign:
Ambassador Stephen J. Rapp, U.S. Ambassador for Global Criminal Justice, spoke on July 4th in Delft at "A Grotian Moment: The International Criminal Court, The U.S. and The Hague Tradition."
It’s exciting to hear Ambassador Rapp speaking about the U.S. and the ICC at such an event. I hope this signals good things to come for the relationship between the U.S. and the Court and our country’s continued engagement with the ICC.
Watch Ambassador Rapp's speech below:
It's hardly surprising at the point, but no less sad and infuriating. Once again, Russia and China have used their permanent veto-wielding power on the U.N. Security Council to protect Syrian President Bashar al-Assad rather than the citizens his regime continues to butcher.
In another double-veto today, Russia and China voted against a Security Council resolution which would have threatened the Syrian regime with sanctions in an effort to end the bloodshed there which has gone on for more than a year and killed at least 14,000 civilians. It's not the first time Russia and China have vetoed efforts to stop Syria's crimes against its people; they've been standing in staunch opposition to any such action by the international community for months now. And whether it's the result of Russia's ties to the Assad regime, a belief that the U.N.-approved campaign in Libya last year overreached its mandate, or the fear of what message international efforts in Syria might send to their own restive populations at home, ultimately means very little.
What matters is that the Syrian peace process continues to fail, and two-fifths of the Security Council continues to shield a tyrant and international pariah who happens to be a head of state.
Today, the International Criminal Court's (ICC) first trial was completed with the sentencing of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo to fourteen years in prison. Lubanga, of the Democratic Republic of Congo, was found guilty by the Court in March of conscripting child soldiers for use in battle.
This first sentencing is certainly a landmark moment for the ICC. It's good to see the Court complete a trial and ensure that a vicious warlord will be put away, though it's a bit disheartening to see the length of the sentence is shorter than what the ICC Prosecutor had recommended. The prosecution had asked for Lubanga to serve 30 years for his crimes. His sentence is further reduced because the six years he's been in custody will count toward his incarceration, so he will only serve an additional eight years (with the possibility of getting out even sooner due to good behavior).
With all that said, I'm still happy to see some measure of justice done in today's sentencing of Lubanga. I'm proud to see the ICC reach this milestone moment, and I hope this sentence brings some measure of peace to Lubanga's victims and their families. I look forward to a future in which the Court succeeds in putting many other war criminals behind bars where they belong.
For those of us who are passionate about international justice, yesterday marked an extraordinary milestone. The International Criminal Court (ICC), the world's first permanent international court, celebrated its 10th anniversary. However, its roots go back much further than a mere decade.
The ICC traces its heritage in part back to the Nuremberg trials after World War Two, in which the U.S. played a leading role. Nazi war criminals were put on trial and brought to justice for horrific crimes against humanity committed during the war, and the international community vowed "never again" to allow such atrocities to happen on its watch. Tragically, this promise remained unfulfilled as the 20th century continued to witness genocides in places as diverse as Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, and Sudan. The need for a permanent international body to bring war criminals to justice remained glaring.
In 1998, representatives from around the world met in Rome, Italy to firm up plans for such an international court. The result was the Rome Statute and the creation of the ICC. The Court officially came into being on July 1, 2002.
Today, Fatou Bensouda was sworn in as the new Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), replacing the Court's first Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo. Bensouda is the first woman and African to hold this position.
Bensouda, who is from Gambia, previously served as ICC Deputy Prosecutor, working closely with Ocampo, so it seems the first Prosecutor-to-Prosecutor transfer of power in the Court's history should go smoothly. Her experience is impressive, and additionally, the fact that she is an African woman will likely help to blunt the perception on the part of some critics that the ICC is targeting Africa unfairly in its investigations.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to hear Prosecutor Bensouda speak at an event at the Assembly of States Parties meeting last December. She made compelling reference to the need for the Court to focus its attention on gender-based violence and bring perpetrators of these crimes to justice. I was impressed by Bensouda, and I look forward to seeing what her next steps as Prosecutor will be as the Court nears its milestone 10th anniversary in July.
Congratulations, Prosecutor Bensouda! And thank you to former Prosecutor Ocampo for all of your efforts to establish the Court's role in bringing about international justice.
Four staffers of the International Criminal Court (ICC) were detained in Libya over the weekend after meeting with Saif Gaddafi, son of the deposed dictator, who has been indicted by the Court. An ICC team is currently working to secure their release.
ICC President Song has called for the release of the staffers, noting that "These four international civil servants have immunity when on an official ICC mission."
Australian ICC lawyer Melinda Taylor was found carrying documents for Gaddafi that were considered "suspicious" by the Libyan authorities. She and her fellow ICC staff were put under house arrest in the town of Zintan and have been ordered to be held in detention for 45 days.
This latest drama comes as the ICC and Libya remain engaged in a broader tug-of-war over where the younger Gaddafi should be tried. The Libya situation was referred to the ICC last spring by the U.N. Security Council, and the ICC has issued an arrest warrant for Gaddafi. The new Libyan government has expressed a strong desire to try Gaddafi in the country, but it is unclear that they have a sufficient judicial system set up to ensure a fair trial.
We will keep you updated as more news becomes available.
If you're like me, there's nothing quite as much fun as making a list. And listing "winners and losers" on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis is something of a D.C. tradition. So I'm going to start a regular blog series on "Heroes and Zeros" around the globe-commending those leaders, governments, or ordinary people who did something great that positively impacts the global issues that Globalsolutions.org cares about, and calling out those whose actions have hurt the cause of creating a better world.
Here's the first edition-and feel free to let me know what you think and provide feedback!
Hero of the Week: The Nation of Malawi
As someone who follows the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC) closely, I feel that all too often I'm writing about how some new nation has flouted ICC arrest warrants by inviting a convicted war criminal for a visit. But happily, this week indicates the tide may be starting to turn on this loathsome practice, as illustrated by Malawi's refusal to host Sudanese president--and ICC indictee--Omar al-Bashir. Malawi was scheduled to hold an African Union summit, but got into a dispute with the AU because it refused to allow Bashir to attend. Despite protests from the AU, Malawi held firm to its no-Bashir stance, and the summit was moved to another country.
It was not unexpected, but the news was still dispiriting and depressing. Yesterday, the United Nation's Secretary General's top lawyer effectively put the brakes on a resolution which would have, among other things, urged the five permanent members of the Security Council (known as the P-5) to refrain from using their veto power to prevent U.N. action in situations where genocide or mass atrocities are threatening civilian lives.
The resolution had been proposed by a group of nations termed the "S-5", or small five, in contrast to the veto-wielding P-5 countries. The S-5 group--Costa Rica, Liechtenstein, Jordan, Singapore and Switzerland--had called for a vote on a resolution to urge the Council to reform the way it works, allow more scrutiny of its actions, and, most significantly for those civilians suffering from oppression by regimes such as Syria and Bahrain, hold off on using their veto when atrocities are being committed and the lives of innocent people are at stake.
Today, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo announced he would seek new charges against Bosco Ntaganda of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Ntaganda was already charged by the ICC in 2006 for the use of child soldiers in battle. Prosecutor Ocampo is now seeking to add charges of crimes against humanity for murder, ethnic persecution, rape and sexual slavery, as well as war crimes charges for "intentional attacks" against civilians leading to murder, rape, sexual slavery and pillaging. These alleged crimes were committed in the DRC between 2002-2003.
Lubanga also asked for an arrest warrant against the DRC's Sylvestre Mudacumura, who he said has "launched a campaign of attacks against the civilian populations in the Kivus." He is charged with charged with five counts of crimes against humanity: murder, inhumane acts, rape, torture and persecution, and nine counts of war crimes: attack against a civilian population, murder or willful killing, mutilation, cruel treatment, rape, torture, destruction of property, pillaging and outrage upon personal dignity.
Speaking about Ntaganda, who is known as "The Terminator" and currently on the run, Lubanga states that,
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