There is something deeply troubling about the ICC decision to indict President Bashir of Sudan. The aftermath suggests that there had been no real planning for what would happen next. NGOs have been forced into an ugly retreat over a warrant that is highly unlikely to be acted upon, at least while Bashir remains in office. The fact ignored by many is that most parts of Darfur have been relatively stable over the past three years and that agreements with Khartoum have allowed the UN and NGOs to construct effective systems for delivery of humanitarian aid. That is now threatened with destruction. As Julie Frint and Alex De Waal put it:
International justice is a virtuous enterprise, but not risk-free. Sudanese people are already paying a high price for the abandonment of the diplomatic approach that has yielded such benefits over the last four years. We fear there is more to come. There will be no justice in Sudan without peace. When peace and justice clash, peace must prevail.
The lack of forward-planning and cooperation reminded me of the fallout from the recent UPDF-led attacks on the LRA in the Garamba Forest of the DRC. In this case American intelligence and logistical support was provided in order to try and capture or kill LRA leader Joseph Kony (also ICC indicted). However, the operation failed in its primary aim and as a result the civilians of the DRC/South Sudan border area have felt the full brunt of the LRA's terror tactics over the past few weeks. It appears no thought was given by either Ugandan or American planners as to what might happen if the mission was unsuccessful.
As with the Bashir arrest warrants, it is ultimately the most vulnerable civilians who suffer due to the unacceptable lack of foresight of others.