30 January, 2007

You've got to choose

I need to decide which course I am taking this semester. My choices are:

1. Some boring law course
2. A course on Political Islam, with one of Spy School's star lecturers. Handy if I actually do a thesis on the internal politics of the Palestinian Authority
3. A course on the politics and social stuff of Africa (in particular the southern end of Africa). There is a part of me that thinks that the problems of Africa are big and interesting and worth knowing about, but the course is on at an inconvenient time.
4. A course on US foreign policy. I almost certainly won't do this. My current thinking is that maybe if we all ignore US foreign policy it will go away.

Actually, I think I was meant to have chosen about all of this some time ago. Mmm.

09 January, 2007

The International Criminal Court & Uganda

Here is an interesting article in the Guardian about the International Criminal Court and Uganda: African search for peace throws court into crisis. It seems that having asked the ICC to deal with the case of Joseph Kony (leader of the scary Lord's Resistance Army), Uganda's President Museveni has now decided that he would rather agree some kind of peace deal with Kony and sees the ICC's attempts to indict Kony for crimes against humanity as being akin to neo-colonialism.

Aside from the question of Museveni's erratic behaviour, the dispute raises some interesting questions over whether it is more important to pursue local peace deals or to pursue those accused of crimes against humanity. I lean towards the idea that crimes against humanity are in a separate order of badness than other crimes, and that in their very nature they are crimes against all of us rather than merely against their immediate victims. I therefore do not think that local deals can allow these kind of criminals a get out of jail free card. I recall thinking the same thing during the Pinochet extradition case - the general may have made his peace with the Chilean politicians he graciously allowed to succeed him, but he cannot do a deal with humanity.

The Ugandan case is a bit more complicated. Seeing a peace deal unravel and the LRA continue its murderous war would be a perverse outcome, but so to would allowing Kony to go free. An important part of the ICC and the internationalisation of justice is that maniacs now have a distant threat of justice dangling over them. A cynic will undoubtedly contend that no dictator or condotierre is likely to show up before the court if they are a pal of the USA, but today's client of the overlords is often tomorrow's indicted pariah. I reckon that the ICC would be right to face down Museveni so that future Konys think more carefully about where their actions might lead them.