The Impotence of International Law

While Kenya has recently issued an arrest warrant for Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, it is hardly reason for optimism that it will actually be carried out. This serves as a further reminder that international law, in its current state, is impotent to truly bring justice.

Wanted on the charges of crimes against humanity and possible genocide in Darfur, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Bashir. Discontent with the ruling, the African Union (AU) urged its members not to act on the warrant, arguing that the court was unjustly targeting African nations. As such, numerous ICC member states blatantly refused to arrest the Sudanese president on trips he made to their countries.

Further illustrating the systematic impotence of international law, the warrant is really only applicable if Bashir travels to ICC member states. As such, he has been careful not to make any official trips to member states declaring an intention to carry out the warrant. He has even canceled planned trips if this revelation came to light after official trips had been announced.

Kenya, in defiance of the ICC, refused to arrest Bashir on his recent trip to the country. In the wake of his visit, the supreme court of Kenya reneged the agreement with the AU and issued their own arrest warrant for the African leader. Angered by the decision, Bashir has recalled his ambassador to Kenya and expelled Kenya’s ambassador in Khartoum.

This is only heightening already existent tensions between the two nations. Since South Sudan’s independence, Kenya has supported the development of South Sudan’s economy and trading partners, helping South Sudan to bring oil to port in Kenya, bypassing Port Sudan (in Sudan), their traditional export location. This has served to further diminish Sudan’s income since the independence of South Sudan in July and exacerbated by a lengthy stalemate on export terms.

If international institutions, and their member states, are serious about the duties and goals they are tasked with, then serious reform is needed to allow them to be effective in their mandates. Enforcing sanctions or other penalties for member states who fail to adhere to institution decisions will not only prove that agencies such as the ICC are serious about their missions but will help to ensure compliance by member states.

Photo credit: UN Multimedia

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Kathleen O'Neill

Kathleen O'Neill is interested in migration and refugee issues as well as international politics, with a particular interest in the Middle East. She has a double BA in economics and international studies with a concentration in Middle East studies from Washington College in Maryland. She has an MA in Middle East studies and a graduate diploma in migration and refugee studies from the American University in Cairo, Egypt. Kathleen has co-authored two short articles published by the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC and London Middle East Institute at SOAS. She has lived in the MENA region for more than seven years.

MORE FROM

Amid new revelations, here’s what we’ve learned about the Russian lawyer who met with Trump Jr.

The picture of Natalia Veselnitskaya is coming into clearer focus.

Republican Senator urges whoever leaked Russia/Sessions phone calls to release whole conversation

Sen. Chuck Grassley wants the person who leaked intelligence about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to come forward with more information.

Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort now to testify before Senate committee behind closed doors

Trump Jr. and Manafort have avoided a subpoena and will testify behind closed doors — for now.

Hope Hicks reportedly tried to rein Trump in during explosive ‘Times’ interview. It didn’t work.

The low-profile Trump Whisperer is one of the few in the president's orbit to enjoy job security.

Scaramucci once asked Obama if he’d be softer on Wall Street. It didn’t end well.

The exchange came during a CNBC town hall on the financial crisis, two years into Obama’s presidency.

Trump blasts Hilary Clinton, Comey and ‘Amazon Washington Post’ in tweet storm

He also defended Don Jr. and called Democrats "obstructionists" with "no ideas."

Amid new revelations, here’s what we’ve learned about the Russian lawyer who met with Trump Jr.

The picture of Natalia Veselnitskaya is coming into clearer focus.

Republican Senator urges whoever leaked Russia/Sessions phone calls to release whole conversation

Sen. Chuck Grassley wants the person who leaked intelligence about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to come forward with more information.

Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort now to testify before Senate committee behind closed doors

Trump Jr. and Manafort have avoided a subpoena and will testify behind closed doors — for now.

Hope Hicks reportedly tried to rein Trump in during explosive ‘Times’ interview. It didn’t work.

The low-profile Trump Whisperer is one of the few in the president's orbit to enjoy job security.

Scaramucci once asked Obama if he’d be softer on Wall Street. It didn’t end well.

The exchange came during a CNBC town hall on the financial crisis, two years into Obama’s presidency.

Trump blasts Hilary Clinton, Comey and ‘Amazon Washington Post’ in tweet storm

He also defended Don Jr. and called Democrats "obstructionists" with "no ideas."