Canwest News Service
4 March 2009
Canada's former United Nations ambassador Allan Rock called the arrest warrant issued Wednesday by the International Criminal Court against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes in Darfur "a significant milestone" in ending the impunity of abusive dictators.<
Rock offered that assessment in an interview with the Canwest News Service, saying the indictment puts teeth on the United Nations doctrine of Responsibility to Protect, which Canada spearheaded as a major tool to prevent genocide and war crimes.
"We're seeing a new level of accountability in international criminal law," said Rock, who was to give a major speech Wednesday night on Canada's role in fostering the creation of the R2P doctrine. "Canada should be doing a lot more to keep it on the front burner. This is a major Canadian achievement as well as an important advance for the United Nations."
Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon urged Sudan to respect the arrest warrant, echoing the same stern message delivered by the Obama White House in Washington. ()
In a statement, Cannon called on Sudan to abide by "its international obligations, as defined by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1593, to co-operate fully with the Court." But Rock said the charges underscored the need for Canada to do more promote the R2P doctrine, which has been adopted by the UN Security Council and is to be debated by the General Assembly in the coming months.
Some critics have accused the Harper Conservatives of ignoring R2P because it was largely a creation of the previous Liberal governments, including the human security agenda put forward by former foreign affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy. ()
Rock said the R2P doctrine is not a licence to invade a country militarily, and in the case of Darfur, that would "cause more harm than good." But as shown by Wednesday's indictment, Rock said the doctrine can be part of an "international full court press" that can include diplomatic censure and economic sanctions.