As the International Criminal Court (ICC) considers whether
to issue arrest warrants for Sudanese President al-Bashir, some are calling on
the UN Security Council to block the action.
The ICC's prosecutor says the Sudanese leader
should be charged with genocide and war crimes stemming from the war and
humanitarian crisis in Darfur. But how much power does the Security Council
have over the ICC? Sonia Robla is the head of public information at the
International Criminal Court. From The Hague, she spoke to VOA English to
Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the court's relationship with the
United Nations. However, she refused to be specific regarding the Sudanese
"I don't want to answer this question related to
a concrete case because it is a hypothetical situation and the court does not
answer to hypothetical situations. Moreover, at this stage there is still not
even a warrant of arrest issued by the court, but only a request of the office
of the prosecutor. So I think that it's a bit early to answer related to a
concrete case," she says.
Speaking in more general terms, she says, "What I
can explain…or clarify about the relationship between the Security Council and
the International Criminal court is the following: The International Criminal
Court was established by a treaty of a number of countries which approved the
Rome Statute (establishing the court). It is not the result of a resolution of
the Security Council of the United Nations, which is the case with the other
international tribunals, for example the International Tribunal for the Former
Yugoslavia or the International Tribunal for Rwanda. The International Criminal
Court is an independent institution, which is not part of the system of the
Asked whether that means the ICC is totally
independent of the United Nations' influence or pressure, Robla says, "The Rome
Statute has a provision, which is Article 15, which established that the
Security Council… in a resolution…can request the court to stop investigations
or prosecutions. And the Security Council can do it for a period of 12 months.
This period can be renewed by the council under the same conditions.
"There's no set number of times the Security
Council can do this. "The Rome Statute has no provision about it. The only
thing which is clear under Article 16 (of the UN charter) is that the Security
Council can renew under the same conditions."
As to why there's no limit on the number of
times the council can do this, Robla says, "The court has never faced this
situation. The court…started its work five years ago and we were never
requested by the Security Council to stop any investigations or prosecutions.
However…the situation of Sudan/Darfur was referred to the court by the Security
Council…following the Article 13 of the Rome Statute."