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Arab League Summit to discuss warrant for al-Bashir

Flag of the Arab League

Flag of the Arab League

Reuters is reporting today:

The international arrest warrant for Sudan’s president will top the agenda of an Arab summit next week, which he may attend despite his indictment for war crimes, host Qatar said on Saturday.

Sudan’s Omar Hassan al-Bashir has made trips to Egypt, Eritrea, Libya and Ethiopia over the past two weeks, after the warrant was issued by the International Criminal Court accusing him of masterminding atrocities in Darfur. Qatar, which hosts a major U.S. military base, said last week it had faced unspecified pressure not to receive Bashir but nevertheless repeated its invitation for him to attend.

The Reuters account notes:

Amnesty International called in a statement for leaders of the 22-member Arab League to enforce the indictment, citing Arab appeals to international law over Israel’s offensive in Gaza this year which killed around 1,300 Palestinians.

Arab League officials in Doha said it was not clear if Bashir would turn up in the Gulf state. Gulf countries are close allies of Washington, traditionally relying on U.S. military support. Some host U.S. forces.

A number of questions.

First, what will the Arab League summit conclude about the warrants? I cannot beleive they will be able to reach agreement on a resolution calling for their enforcement.

Second, assuming that al-Bashir does go to Doha, will any attempts be made to arrest him? As the Reuters article notes, Qatar is very close to the United States and undoubtedly pressure has been put on them to do something.  Qatar is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, so there is no legal obligation to take any action. It also seems likely that some form of immunity regime exists for representatives to the Arab League summit (although I have not been able to find a specifc convention on such immunity).

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Anthony Clark Arend is Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University and the Director of the Master of Science in Foreign Service in the Walsh School of Foreign Service.

Commentary and analysis at the intersection of international law and politics.