Sudan is also a member, though its leader, Bashir, is under indictment on war crimes charges. So far, Bashir’s main concession to the group is to allow a fact-finding mission to Darfur to determine who the perpetrators of the war crimes were, but he blocked the mission from visiting the states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, where the Sudanese military is repressing restive populations. The report of the technical team won’t be published.
Still, Mulamula said the initiative was having an impact. “Five years ago, nobody expected that the Great Lakes region would be relatively quiet and peaceful,” she said. “For the first time, the Great Lakes region is not on the international agenda. If we continue and consolidate, we might have a completely different face on the region.”
Until then, Mulamula, a career diplomat, thinks the ICC is performing a useful role. “For people who have suffered mass atrocities, it is the only form of justice that can restore confidence in the international justice system,” she said. “It can be a big deterrent to whoever wants to commit crimes.”
She criticizes the ICC, however, for indicting only Africans so far, and even in those cases moving against a relatively small number of people. “In my view they should widen the net,” she said.
Bauer, the Israeli historian, has a different approach: convincing sympathetic governments to join a bloc at the United Nations that will press the major powers. “Regional conferences are extremely important and can create pressure on the major powers to change their ways,” he said. “A group of 30 to 40 countries at the United Nations, if it can be done, is much more persuasive than any delegation.”
At the ground level in Africa, however, there are many who view the ICC as the best immediate solution available.
“The general opinion in Kenya is that the ICC is the best thing for the country,” said Raymond Kitevu, a Kenyan consultant with the U.N.’s office for the prevention of genocide. “Impunity is the experience here. There have been clashes in the past, and no one’s ever been tried. The ICC will do the punishing. There will be a lesson. It is really worth having.”