Jolie for justice

GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP As Blake noted in the Morning Brief, Angelina Jolie makes a strong case for Darfur justice in today’s Washington Post. The victims want justice, she argues, and Khartoum doesn’t. Those are very good reasons to celebrate the International Criminal Court’s recent moves. But I think she also inadvertently highlights the danger of the ...

By , a professor at Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies.
603689_070228_jolie_05.jpg
603689_070228_jolie_05.jpg

GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP

As Blake noted in the Morning Brief, Angelina Jolie makes a strong case for Darfur justice in today's Washington Post. The victims want justice, she argues, and Khartoum doesn't. Those are very good reasons to celebrate the International Criminal Court's recent moves. But I think she also inadvertently highlights the danger of the judicial strategy for advocates of action in Darfur:

There has been a groundswell of public support for action. People may disagree on how to intervene -- airstrikes, sending troops, sanctions, divestment -- but we all should agree that the slaughter must be stopped and the perpetrators brought to justice.

GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP

As Blake noted in the Morning Brief, Angelina Jolie makes a strong case for Darfur justice in today’s Washington Post. The victims want justice, she argues, and Khartoum doesn’t. Those are very good reasons to celebrate the International Criminal Court’s recent moves. But I think she also inadvertently highlights the danger of the judicial strategy for advocates of action in Darfur:

There has been a groundswell of public support for action. People may disagree on how to intervene — airstrikes, sending troops, sanctions, divestment — but we all should agree that the slaughter must be stopped and the perpetrators brought to justice.

This, in a nutshell, is the problem. The ICC becomes the lowest common denominator, and politicians averse to taking the hard steps can point to the prosecutions as evidence of progress.

Jolie also points out that the situation in Darfur has worsened considerably since 2004. The deterioration on the ground is evidence that, at least so far, the threat of prosecutions has not done the job that ICC enthusiasts hoped it would. And as the recent Bosnia genocide ruling demonstrates, the wheels of justice can move very slowly indeed.

The ICC is in action now, and it should aggressively push its case. But I think activists would be wise not to celebrate its small steps, lest they create the impression that something has actually been done.

David Bosco is a professor at Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. He is the author of The Poseidon Project: The Struggle to Govern the World’s Oceans. Twitter: @multilateralist

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