In other news, today I received an e-mail from Human Rights Watch documenting the "impact" the organization has had lately. Topping the list of accomplishments was this
In a historic step toward justice, the United Nations Security Council passed a late-night resolution referring Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on March 31, 2005. This resolution gives the ICC authority to investigate and prosecute those most responsible for massive human rights violations committed in the western Sudanese region. Human Rights Watch played a crucial role in building support for the referral, from our initial research on the ground, early calls for accountability, and extensive advocacy with the press and diplomats worldwide. This month's referral of Darfur to the ICC by the U.N. Security Council is, we must hope, the beginning of the end of Darfur's awful nightmare and a belated start to ensuring justice and accountability for the crimes committed against the people of Darfur.While the ICC referral is a step-forward, I fail to see how it is going to play a meaningful role in ending the genoicde in Darfur.
In fact, it seems to me that Human Rights Watch is in some ways, more concerned with legitimizing the ICC than they are in stopping the violence. Writing in Foreign Policy, David Bosco made just this point
[M]any human rights groups have decided to use the Sudan crisis to bludgeon the United States into changing its position. In a recent press release, the advocacy group Human Rights Watch claimed that “the Bush administration is creating a deadly delay for the people of Darfur by attempting to block the U.N. Security Council from referring Darfur atrocities to the International Criminal Court.” In their eagerness to establish and legitimize the court, some human rights officials have elided entirely the distinction between meaningful action to stop ongoing atrocities and litigation to assign responsibility for blood already shed. It is a particularly important distinction, given the ICC’s lack of any enforcement capability.And on the day after the Security Council voted to refer the crimes to the ICC, TAPPED's Mark Leon Goldberg made similar observations
As expected, I got a flurry of press releases from excellent human-rights organizations that have pressed hard for the ICC referral. Unfortunately, the two heavyweights, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, decided to highlight the exemption in their immediate post-resolution press releases. To be sure, they were glad that the resolution passed, but they decided to bludgeon the United States for demanding that clause as well.I admire HRW and have donated to them in the past, but in this instance I get the distinct impression that they more focused on pushing their long term pro-ICC agenda than they are on helping the people of Darfur.
Playing up that angle seems somewhat unhelpful and slightly inappropriate to me. Conversely, I think the newer and more dynamic Human Rights First and Citizens for Global Solutions got their post-resolution spin right. Neither referred to the U.S. exemption as “offensive” or “totally unacceptable” as HRW and Amnesty did, respectively.