The International Criminal Court affirmed its reason for being when it issued an arrest warrant on Wednesday for Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, charging him with crimes against humanity in Darfur. The charges include murder, rape, torture, the forcible transfer and extermination of targeted groups, and the pillaging of their property. These are war crimes that too often escaped punishment in the past — acts perpetrated by a merciless criminal endowed with political power.

Well-meaning critics of the arrest warrant worry that its issuance now could interfere with efforts to reach a negotiated peace agreement between Bashir’s regime and rebel groups in Darfur. There is also a chance that the court’s arrest warrant for Bashir could have a transforming political effect. If members of his regime become sufficiently nervous about serving with a wanted criminal, and if they come under the right kind of pressure from other African Union and Arab League governments, they might decide it is in their interest to remove Bashir, make peace with resistance movements in Darfur.

Obama should exert its influence in the United Nations Security Council and with African nations to help bring about this outcome. It would be acting on the adage: without justice there is no peace.