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An Incredible Conference

Thanks to everyone who came to our 2009 Annual Meeting at Gallaudet University last weekend! We had a great time, applauding the achievements of our supporters during the past year; going over goals for the upcoming year; and looking at some long-range issues that we may want to begin working on.

Congressman Joe Sestak (7th-PA) made time to talk to our supporters about his goals for international engagement on Thursday, answering questions listening to our concerns. Many other Members of Congress arranged for their foreign policy staffers to meet with our members, to discuss the ICC, the Law of the Sea, and CEDAW. On Friday, we had a series of incredible panels, begining with a discussion of nuclear disarmament and peacekeeping. Joe Cirincionne of the Ploughshares Fund, Ann Richard of the International Rescue Committee, Peter Yeo of the U.N. Foundation's Better World Campaign, and our own CEO Don Kraus discussed a variety of policy initiative and fielded questions.

Easily the most animated discussion was the panel on whether the world is ready for an elected United Nations  parliament. Legal expert Andrew Strauss, CGS Minnesota chapter leader Joe Schwartzberg, Faye Leone of the World Federalist Movement, Argentine parliament member Fernando Iglesias and Jeffrey Laurenti of the Century Foundation all debated the advantages and problems of setting up a global assembly.

Partners focus on action for Darfur

Thanks to all our Partners who joined us March 14th for our Partners Call on Darfur. Niemat Ahmadi of SaveDarfur joined us to give us the latest information on the situation there. Unfortunately, President Al-Bashir has disconnected many telephone lines and internet connections, in order to keep information from getting from Darfur to the outside world. Ms. Ahmadi told us about this very worrisome development and urged our Partners to press U.S. officials to take action quickly. She said,

"This is the right time for world leaders to show leadership. What's going on in Darfur is a humanitarian crisis, so it is the responsibility of world leaders to help."

See what Ms. Ahmadi had to say to the UN Security Council.

Goodbye Nethercutt & the BIA Campaign

Senate passage of the Omnibus appropriations bill quietly marked the end of Congressional sanctions on nations that have ratified the International Criminal Court. It also officially ends the Bush administration's Bilateral Immunity Agreement (or Article 98) campaign, clearing the way for greater U.S. cooperation with the Court.

Thank you Representative Lowey, Senator Leahy and your staffs!

Beginning in the summer of 2002, the Bush administration aggressively sought to conclude bilateral immunity agreements with every country in the world. Bilateral immunity agreements (BIAs), also known as "Article 98" agreements, prohibited countries from sending U.S. personnel to the ICC for any reason. This includes U.S. servicemembers, nationals, or employees of the U.S. government (past and present, including non-national contractors). Over 100 nations were pressured into signing these agreements, even though doing so meant violating the commitment they took on when they ratified the ICC treaty. They were forced to put all U.S. citizens on their territory, even mercenaries and common criminals, above the laws that they expected their own citizens and leaders to obey.

In 2002 Congress passed the American Servicemembers Protection Act (ASPA), which hampered U.S. cooperation with the Court and sanctioned nations that ratified it by withholding funding for military financing and education. By January, 2008, at the urging of the Defense Department, these economic sanctions were eliminated.

Bipartisan Support for Strong US Action on Darfur & ICC - But Where's Obama?

Reaction is pouring in to the International Criminal Court arrest warrants issued on Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir. Several members of Congress issued statements calling for stronger U.S. engagement with the ICC and Darfur. Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) said:

"Today, the International Criminal Court took the first step towards bringing the perpetrators of the violence in Darfur to justice. For far too long, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has violated human rights and committed heinous acts of violence against civilians in Sudan. We cannot afford to delay or stall while innocent people continued to be slaughtered in Darfur. Today, the International Criminal Court has demonstrated its moral authority by holding accountable those who are responsible for war crimes and now the United States must demonstrate its leadership in global justice by renewing its commitment to the Court's mandate. Only then will the International Criminal Court have the tools at its disposal to prosecute and try those who commit mass murder and other crimes against humanity around the world'."

This echoed CGS's statement made earlier today.

On the House floor, Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) called on President Obama to take rapid action:

ICC Issues Bashir Arrest Warrant - Time for the US to Cooperate

ICC Pretrial ChamberToday the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir (CGS just issues a press release and an

I Remember When the ICC Was A Pipe Dream

I first became active in the World Federalist Association, predecessor to, in 1983, when I lived in the Boston area. One of the objectives on our radar screen at that time was the creation of an International Criminal Court, but at the time it seemed almost as close to science fiction as would have been a full-fledged world federation. One of the global circumstances we Federalists deplored was the almost complete lack of accountability for crimes against humanity committed outside of responsible national jurisdictions. Yet there seemed virtually no interest anywhere in creating institutions to deal with this problem.

And yet, by the late eighties, a consortium of Caribbean countries, supported by Federalists around the world, introduced the idea of an International Criminal Court in the General Assembly. And within ten more years, in August, 1998, the ICC treaty was created in Rome. Now, in its approaching indictment of Sudan's Omar al-Bashir, for the first time in history a sitting head of state is facing likely prosecution by a global legal authority.

Just today, a young staffer in CGS's Washington office asked me what the prospects were for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, which could become a global legislature with democratically elected proportional representation. It's an idea gaining momentum in Europe, Canada and Latin America, but not much yet in the United States. "At this point, it's still science fiction," I started to say.

If the International Criminal Court can come to fruition in less than a quarter century, it's reasonable to believe the same can occur with a U.N. Parliamentary Assembly. Almost 3,000 people have signed the appeal from the Campaign for a U.N. Parliamentary Assembly and that number continues to grow every day. Through continued work on the issue, perhaps the dream of a world federation could soon be within our grasp.

Clooney skips Oscars to advocate for Darfur

On Sunday, February 22, George Clooney met with President Obama to discuss the crisis in Darfur and then went on Larry King Live to continue advocating - instead of partying it up on Oscar night. Clooney, a U.N. Messenger of Peace, has visited Sudan several times and works with Save Darfur, a coalition partner of Clooney's message to the President? The U.S. needs to appoint an envoy to lead Sudan policy. If this sounds familiar, it may be because we sent out an action alert earlier this month to the same effect! Clooney reports that the President and Vice President both seemed receptive to the request.

Let the administration know that you are of the same mind as Clooney, and that you agree the U.S. needs to quickly appoint an official to manage Sudan policy: click here to send an email to President Obama in 30 seconds.

U.S. to Participate in Preparations for the U.N. Durban II Conference

We were thrilled to hear that this April the Obama Administration will be sending a delegation to represent the United States at a preparatory meeting for the United Nations Durban Review Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. The Durban II Conference will review the commitments established by each country in the original U.N. World Conference Against Racism held in Durban, in 2001. In 2001, the United States led a walkout of the Durban Conference because of the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel message that dominated the conference. Others already fear a repeat in Durban II because anti-Israeli states like Iran have played such a large role in the Conference's preparations. The outcome document of the original Conference includes recently added language impugning the state of Israel. A friend of, Congressman Howard L. Berman, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, echoed our sentiments when he stated,

"The decision to engage in, rather than to withdraw from, the debate in Geneva is constructive, it is critical that the United States regain its moral voice at the U.N. by jumping into the fray and stipulating clear redlines for re-focusing Durban II, including the removal of language in the Outcome Document attacking Israel or singling it out for criticism. We should continue challenging the status quo at the U.N. by re-engaging in and restructuring its human rights mechanisms in order to break the choke-hold that non-democratic states currently have on them."