GV Uganda: Can a Viral Video Really #StopKony?

I’ve taken a (too long) hiatus from writing for Global Voices, but the flood of responses to Invisible Children’s new Kony 2012 film has me back:

A film aimed at making Joseph Kony—a Ugandan guerilla leader currently wanted by International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity—”famous” in order to raise support for his arrest has swept the Internet by storm, pushing #StopKony onto Twitter’s trending topics list and prompting a wave of backlash from bloggers who worry the film and its associated campaign are overly simplistic.

Read the full post »

The post features quotes from Rosebell Kagumire, Solome Lemma, Muse Okwonga, Angelo Izama, Siena Antsis, Julian Mwine, Teddy Ruge, Ernest Bazanye, and a few others.

I’m still mulling over my own response to the film; hoping to post something in the next day or two. In the meantime, please do yourself a favor and check out two essential pieces of reading:

In which I wish I’d gone to law school

Over at Wronging Rights, Kate and Amanda are puzzling over a recent TIME article that states the International Criminal Court is “compiling evidence of possible recent war crimes in southern Sudan, allegedly directed by Sudanese Defense Minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein.”

This article—which name-drops George Clooney, weirdly enough—raises all sorts of questions. Kate and Amanda, who are Actually Lawyers, ask (and attempt to answer, somewhat) these questions far better than I can, given that I have but a single international human rights law class under my belt. That said, as I understand it, the ICC can’t just open investigations willy-nilly.

The ICC can only open a case if it: 1) is referred to them either by a state involved in the case (as in Uganda) or by the Security Council (as in Darfur, Sudan in 2005 and Libya); or 2) involves alleged crimes under the ICC’s jurisdiction, defined as crimes in which “the accused is a national of a State Party or a State otherwise accepting the jurisdiction of the Court” or crimes that “took place on the territory of a State Party or a State otherwise accepting the jurisdiction of the Court.”

The problem here is that neither Sudan nor the newly formed South Sudan is a state party to the ICC, meaning the only way this case makes sense is if the Security Council referred it, which it didn’t. Kate and Amanda ask:

So, uh, what gives? Did the TIME reporter get an Enough Project report and mistakenly conclude it was an internal ICC memo? Or is there some other reason why the ICC, a court of limited jurisdiction and limited resources, would be spending the latter on an investigation that is clearly outside of the former?

This is, to me, where things get sort of crazy. Kate and Amanda asked law professor Kevin Jon Heller to weigh in, which he did:

My best guess is — as they suggest — that the OTP has received assurances from the new South Sudanese government that it will either (1) ratify the Rome Statute and accept the Court’s jurisdiction retroactively, or (2) file a declaration under Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute accepting jurisdiction on an hoc basis over the crimes the OTP is investigating. Either way, the issue would be how far back in time South Sudan could accept the Court’s jurisdiction.

He goes on to suggest a weirder (to me—speak up, international human rights lawyers, if you have something even weirder to add!) possibility:

South Sudan could invoke the Eichmann “precedent” and argue that a state should have the right to give the Court retroactive jurisdiction over any and all crimes committed against its citizens, even if the state did not formally exist at the time of their commission.

Amanda responds with a pretty fascinating discussion of the difference between passive personality jurisdiction and active personality jurisdiction that I won’t attempt to recap here but that seems to indicate that the Eichmann precedent won’t actually get the ICC very far.

I’ve written before about my love-hate relationship with the ICC that’s mostly hate, and this latest apparently overreaching on the part of Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo feels like yet another misstep in a series of horrible missteps. That said, the pretend law geek inside of me is fascinated by it, and I’m looking forward to seeing if and how the ICC can justify this investigation as being under their jurisdiction.

Mamdani vs. Prendergast: the video

Last month I attended The Darfur Debate, a conversation between African political expert Mahmood Mamdani and Darfur advocate John Prendergast. In case my arbitrary points-laden round-up wasn’t enough, you can now watch the video yourself, courtesy of Columbia’s YouTube account:

Let me know if you agree with my assessments of Prendergast’s sartorial choices.

Mamdani vs. Prendergast

Tonight Mahmood Mamdani and John Prendergast will fight to the death share a civil debate on the situation in Darfur, an event I’m hoping will end in hair-pulling and the shouting of epithets. I’ll be tweeting from the debate, and you can follow along below.