The Last Word: Luis Moreno-Ocampo: The Global Lawman

Article excerpt

Byline: Arlene Getz and Jonathan Tepperman

Midway through his nine-year term as prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo is ebullient about the prospects -- and progress -- of the tribunal. As bureaucracies go, he says, the court has moved faster than expected against those accused of war crimes. In New York last week to testify to the United Nations Security Council on Sudan, Moreno-Ocampo, 55, spoke to NEWSWEEK's Arlene Getz and Jonathan Tepperman about the work of the court and its evolving relationship with the United States.

NEWSWEEK:The concept of an international court was always controversial. What's the ICC's greatest achievement so far?

Moreno-Ocampo: When I was appointed, I had six floors of empty [office] space, and some people told me that I would only be able to bring frivolous cases. Four years later, I am investigating the most serious cases in the world -- in Darfur, northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic.

Your report to the U.N. Security Council says the Sudanese government is not cooperating with your efforts to arrest two men [former minister Ahmad Harun and militia leader Ali Kushayb] accused of war crimes in Darfur. What weapons do you have to enforce your arrest warrants?

The same weapons that the court has in this country: legitimacy. People learn to respect that. People know they have to respect the law. Before our case in Darfur, people were talking about Janjaweed militia, but no one described how the system worked. We showed how Ahmad Harun coordinated all these activities. Because my role is to understand how all these crimes are committed, this information is crucial. That is some part of the impact -- Also, look at northern Uganda, where the intervention of the ICC had impact [after the court issued arrest warrants for leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army in 2005]. When Sudan signed an agreement with us to execute the warrant, [LRA leader Joseph] Kony lost his safe haven in Sudan and moved to northern Congo. That produced an important change, because it meant there were no more attacks in Uganda. Thousands of children were walking into the bush each night to sleep safely. Now they are sleeping in their own houses.

Are you hoping that the U.N. troops scheduled to be deployed to Darfur next year can find and arrest Harun and Kushayb?

No, we never requested the U.N. to make arrests. We've always made it clear that the government of Sudan is responsible for arrests. …