The US policy of not recognizing the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court is hard to justify when browbeating Khartoum (which also does not recognize the court) and supporting the recent arrest warrant for Sudan’s president, Omar Bashir. Here’s the State Department spokesman, Gordon Duguid, getting cornered on the issue last month (video and transcript):
MR. DUGUID: The fact that he is now – the president is now a fugitive from justice is a lever for the international community, just as it has been in many other cases.
QUESTION: Well, he’s not – he’s a fugitive from justice in the eyes of the United States?
MR. DUGUID: He’s a fugitive from justice in the eyes of the ICC and —
QUESTION: Well, you’re not a member —
MR. DUGUID: — all of the people who supply to that.
QUESTION: — of the ICC, so I —
MR. DUGUID: That is correct. But it is still, for the international community, a lever.
QUESTION: You do not – so you’re saying that you recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC —
MR. DUGUID: We recognize —
QUESTION: — over —
MR. DUGUID: — that this is – we recognize that by the international community, this has been a move that will try and help resolve the problems in Sudan.
QUESTION: Gordon, sorry – just be specific. You recognize the ICC’s jurisdiction over the head of state of a country that like your – like the United States, is not a member of the —
MR. DUGUID: I think I’ve given you my answer. We recognize that this move by the ICC and the members of the international community who support it is a move to try and resolve the problems in Sudan.
QUESTION: Yeah, but you say the United States considers him a fugitive from justice, but you don’t recognize that —
MR. DUGUID: I just said that he is a fugitive from justice under the court issued by – the warrant issued by the ICC. You are correct. The United States is not a member of the ICC.
QUESTION: And neither is Sudan, so why – so if he – if his own country doesn’t recognize the jurisdiction of this court, how can you?
MR. DUGUID: There are a number of leaders or instances in which the particular country did not recognize the jurisdiction of a court, and yet the leader was brought to trial and was brought to justice.
QUESTION: Right, but in most of those cases, the United States had – in fact, in all of them, the United States has supported them. You know, this (inaudible).
MR. DUGUID: In this particular instance, you are right – you are correct. On our position, or our relationship to the court, that does not lessen the members of that court’s ability or determination to try and affect what they have said in —
QUESTION: Well, can someone check with the lawyers on this? I don’t understand how it is that you are – you are basically supporting, or giving your backing to the – to ICC jurisdiction over —
MR. DUGUID: We are recognizing that —
QUESTION: — over a person who’s – over the head of a country that does not – that like yourself, doesn’t recognize the ICC.
MR. DUGUID: We are recognizing that the international community, through the ICC, is taking actions to try and help resolve the problems in Sudan and try and bring to justice those who they charge with crimes against humanity. The United States also believes that crimes against humanity have been committed in Darfur.
QUESTION: And what – and the appropriate way to bring to justice those who committed those atrocities is through the ICC?
MR. DUGUID: That is one way that a number of members of the international community have
It’s a little difficult to celebrate the long arm of international law when you don’t recognize its jurisdiction, isn’t it?