Omar al-Bashir

THE fugitive president of Sudan, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, plans to attend a United Nations gathering later this month in New York City on the future of global development. To travel here, he needs a visa. His application for a visa gives President Obama an opportunity to take a landmark stance in the slow evolution of international efforts to prevent genocide.

A century ago, when more than one million Armenians were exterminated, the word “genocide” did not exist. Killing millions of people was a domestic affair in which no foreign country could intervene.

Only after the Holocaust did this state of affairs change. In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a genocide convention, which rejected the idea that “rulers” are immune from accountability for killing their people, and envisioned an “international penal tribunal” to try them. It took until 1988 for the United States to ratify the convention.

Ten years after that, in 1998, 120 countries voted to establish the permanent International Criminal Court to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The United States has not signed on. Nonetheless, in 2005, President George W. Bush accepted a United Nations Security Council resolution that referred the Darfur case to the I.C.C.

The New York Times
By Luis Moreno Ocampo

Full article.