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Conflict of laws

Dec 28,2017 - Last updated at Dec 28,2017

Jordan is appealing a decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to refer the country to the UN Security Council (UNSC) allegedly for not heeding an ICC arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Bashir last March for allegedly committing war crimes under the ICC Statute, including genocide in Sudan's Darfur province back in 2005. 

The UNSC had referred the allegations against the Sudanese leader to the ICC in 2005 which in turn had issued a warrant for his arrest in 2009. 

Jordan refused to arrest Bashir when he visited the country in March of this year to attend the 28th Arab summit that was held on the shore of the Dead Sea.  

Jordan contends that the Sudanese head of state enjoyed diplomatic immunity under international law, including the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961) which entered into force in 1964, when he entered the country and could not therefore be arrested. 

Jordan's credentials as among the strongest supporters of the ICC goes back to the Rome conference in 1998, having played a pivotal role in its establishment as it chaired the working group on crimes against humanity. 

Jordan's refusal to arrest the Sudanese head of state on an official visit to take part in an Arab summit cannot be attributed by any stretch of the imagination as undermining the  jurisdiction of the ICC or eroding its authority and mandate to bring to justice all those who committed crimes against humanity or war crimes or acts of genocide. 

The Arab summit of March 2017 was a meeting at the heads-of-state level organised by the Arab League but happened to take place in Jordan. Jordan had no alternative but to honour the Arab summit's invitations to all Arab heads of state including Sudan. 

At worst, there is a conflict of laws between the ICC Statute and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations on the functional immunity that should be extended to heads of state on official visits to foreign countries.


Under the circumstances, this conflict of laws needs to be referred to the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion before final judgement is rendered on ICC's referral of Jordan to the UNSC for allegedly violating the statute by not apprehending the Sudanese head of state when he entered the country to attend an official Arab summit.

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