Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Should States Oppose Omar al-Bashir's Visit to the UN?

Human Rights Watch has issued a press release calling on Member States of the United Nations to oppose Sudanese President Omar al Bashir's visit to the United Nations General Assembly.  They have also called on Member States to boycott any meetings or events in which Bashir participates because the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued warrants for his arrest in connection with crimes against humanity Sudan.

Bashir's visit does raise difficult issues.  On the one hand, one of the purposes and succcess of the United Nations over time has been to provide a forum for international debate, negotiation and diplomacy.  In order to perform this function, sometimes unpopular or even criminal views must be allowed to be aired.  Partly for this reason, the UN offers diplomatic immunity to visiting government officials. On the other hand, as Human Rights Watch points out, the UN and Member States of the ICC are under an obligation to cooperate with the ICC and assist in enforcing its work.  In this case, allowing al-Bashir to travel and engage in public meetings abroad does seem contrary to the spirit and letter of the ICC arrest warrents.

Your views on this issue are welcome.

(cgb)

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