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by RAY FLEMING
IT was inevitable that the International Criminal Court would meet resistance when it issued its first warrant last week for the arrest of a national leader for crimes against humanity. Predictably President al-Bashir of Sudan, the subject of the warrant, reacted in a way designed to harm still further those he is accused of oppressing - the Darfur refugees - by expelling all humanitarian agencies from Darfur. Almost as predictable was the response at the United Nations where China urged the Security Council to recommend to the Court that action on the arrest warrant should be put on hold for a year while further efforts are made to achieve a successful conclusion to peace talks for Darfur. This idea may seem to have some merit but it falls down on the fact that even if peace were established in Darfur tomorrow the crimes of which President al-Bashir is accused would still be on the charge sheet. The International Criminal Court is a new concept which began work only in 2004. Only about half of the UN's membership have so far acknowledged the Court's legitimacy; Sudan is not among them. Progress to a universal acceptance of the Court's authority will be slow but its existence is so important that patience must be exercised in these early days. It will also be important to avoid the impression that the Court exists only to punish Arab and African countries; Western nations are not guiltless of the crimes covered by the Court.