International Criminal Court Will Rule on Darfur -- Will Obama Appoint an Envoy?

On March 4th the International Criminal Court will announce its findings in their case against Sudanese President Omer Al-Bashir. It is probable that an arrest warrant will be issued against Al-Bashir for war crimes, crimes against humanity and possibly genocide. ICC Chief Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo conducted his investigation under challenging circumstances; he was not permitted to enter Darfur, the region where the crimes took place. Instead he gathered his evidence from many of the 250,000 refugees who fled into Chad after the attacks began in 2003.

I have just returned from a four week journey along the Chad/Darfur border. On both sides of the border, civilians, refugees, aid workers, peacekeepers and military are prepared for a variety of retaliation scenarios from Al-Bashir, a man with much blood on his hands, who will have little to lose. Reliable information from Khartoum reports Government military have been instructed to target families of supporters of the ICC. Director of National Intelligence, Salah Gosh announced the fate of anyone supporting an ICC indictment, "We will cut off his hand and his head and carve up his joints. This is an issue of no compromise"; and "those who misbehave can only blame themselves"!

It is crucial and indeed past time that the Obama administration appoint a top level envoy to be prepared to focus on the consequences of this weeks ICC announcement. Washington must make it clear to Khartoum that it will not tolerate violence against humanitarians, international peacekeepers, or Darfuri civilians in the aftermath of the decision.