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First justice, then peace in Sudan

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Bashir is clearly doing his best to convince the world that the call for his arrest will indeed collide with peace in Darfur. He recently sent a diplomatic mission to Security Council member states, promising renewed peace and possible deals. Back home, his troops attacked Darfur's largest refugee camp, killing dozens.

In fact, the most serious threat to peace and security in Sudan is Bashir himself. His regime has the power to make the Darfurians' life worse yet. It can also endanger international peacekeepers and humanitarian workers, upset the fragile peace in the south, and continue to destabilize its neighbor, Chad. In the past, Khartoum has often used its power in unsettling ways – and many believe that it would not hesitate to do it again.

But is pursuing the course of justice the right answer to this threat? Within the Security Council, divisions run deep on that question. About half of member states support a deferral, and many others still sit carefully on the fence.

In order to credibly pull the brake on justice, the Security Council would have to promptly ensure real peace in Darfur, including a military force strong enough to back it up. Such a deal would have to offer the victims immediate security and relief. It would need to tackle the division of power and natural resources in order to create sustainable peace. And this time it would also have to address past crimes and guarantee that the country's rulers won't resort to genocide again.

It is doubtful whether Bashir would be ready to accept such terms. But anything less ambitious would undermine not only the ICC, but also the credibility of the member states that would allow it.

A better option is to simply let the ICC do its job – while ensuring that the innocent in Darfur do not suffer the consequences of the regime's reaction to such a principled stand.

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