DIPLOMATS sometimes feel moved to say undiplomatic things in public. But the current president of the United Nations General Assembly, former Nicaraguan foreign minister Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, surged far past foolish at a UN press conference Tuesday. He opined that the recent arrest warrant issued for Sudan's genocidal president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, by the International Criminal Court "helps to deepen a perception that international justice is racist."
D'Escoto was condemning the court for indicting an African head of state. But he disregards the fact that five of the 18 judges on the ICC are from Africa, as is the deputy prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda of Ghana. Thirty African countries have joined the court; the United States, Russia, China, and India have not. What's more, cases the court is considering in Africa were brought to it by African states or the UN Security Council.
This lapse in d'Escoto's reasoning might be ascribed to ignorance or a blinding ideological fervor. But there can be no excuse for d'Escoto's willful obfuscation of the distinction between the victims and the perpetrators of mass murder, systematic rape, and ethnic cleansing in Darfur.
The victims of Bashir's crimes against humanity in Darfur are members of black African ethnic groups: the Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa peoples. The regime behind the massacres, as well as its proxy militias, known as the Janjaweed, are Arab. Victims and perpetrators alike are Muslim.
If there is racism in the Sudan case, it lies not with the International Criminal Court but with the leaders of a government that kills, rapes, and uproots innocent civilians for belonging to the wrong ethnic groups.