Upon emerging from life as a political prisoner, Nelson Mandela realized that in order for South Africa to emerge successfully from it's racist Apartheid past, that reconciliation needed to be put before retribution.
That's a valuable lesson.
The International Criminal Court's decision to proceed with war crimes charges against Sudan's president, Omar Hassan Al-Bashir, is tricky. It jeopardizes the chance at a peaceful resolution. It isolates a rogue regime and jeopardizes the trickle of foreign help they currently allow into Darfur.
Sudanese politics are a minefield. Similar to other rogue regimes, they can hold support rallies at will, whether the rallies are paid performances, the result of propaganda, or true acts of unity are yet to be determined.
Worst Case Scenario:
Sudan rejects not only the UN ruling, but also the presence of foreign peace keepers in the Darfur region. African Union peace keepers are slaughtered and ethnic cleansing proceeds at an unprecedented scale. The UN waffles about taking corrective action, with Russia and China as usual protecting their interests above human rights.
Best Case Scenario:
Sudan's leader is embarrassed into taking corrective action. UN peace keepers are allowed to triple the current presence of peace keepers in the region and longer peace initiatives are taken.
- Sudan boots out the UN and AU.
- Via Chad, sympathetic countries finance, arm, train, and prepare rebels for an aggressive rebellion throughout Sudan.
- In the next two years, Southern Sudan will realize the government is reneging on their promises, including a separation referendum, and will join Darfur in the rebellion.
- Another long and bloody war will ensue in Sudan. The Sudanese government will be flush with cash thanks to China and Russia happily buying their high-priced oil.
- Oil revenues will continue to allow the war to proceed a long time.
From a law perspective, the ICC decision to proceed with charges of crimes against humanity for Sudan's top brass, is definitely the right one.
From a moral perspective, the United Nations is unable to prevent the fallout if this decision enrages the Sudanese government. Isolated, Sudanese leaders are much more dangerous than the frustratingly ineffective checks and balances we have currently placed upon them.
Unlike Nelson Mandela, the ICC puts retribution before reconciliation, and that has been their biggest mistake.