ICC: Time for Africa to assert itself

via ICC: Time for Africa to assert itself November 8, 2013 by Wisdom Katungu  Zimbabwe Independent

ON October 12 the extraordinary session of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, sought to review Africa’s relationship with the International Criminal Court (ICC).

This decision was not only long overdue but is very plausible and it should be the first of several measures the continental body needs to take in order to promote the continent’s self-reliance both politically and economically, in order to ensure that Africa takes its rightful place in the global village.

Although the AU did not unilaterally call for the mass pull-out of its members from the ICC, a clear message was sent to the west and the world that Africa would not continue to tolerate abuse and humiliation through the biased application of international law.

I firmly believe that African countries should unanimously pull out of the ICC for the following reasons: It is no secret that the ICC is being used by the West, through their financial influence, to become a political organ targeting Africa. The AU has at some point described the ICC as racist — justifiably so.

The reason for that pronouncement was based on the fact that since its inception 12 years ago, the ICC has unashamedly targeted Africans. This is despite the fact that since its birth we have witnessed the most atrocious war crimes of our generation in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The masters of those war crimes continue to walk freely. Since the inception of the ICC the world has witnessed wanton breach of international law and disregard of the UN Security Council by the so-called superpowers without any consequences.

On a daily basis, the (US President Barack) Obama regime murders innocent women and children in Pakistan through drone attacks. Where is the ICC? The ICC only becomes visible when Kenyans fight in post-election violence!

Surely the domestic courts can handle those cases effectively and the perpetrators of such violence can be brought to book through the Kenyan justice system. The ICC is clearly a political organ and it has deviated from the good intentions it was created for.

When it was created, many in Africa welcomed it as a solution to unabated conflict and impunity, a cancer that is slowing down the continent’s development. This explains why a number of cases have been brought to the court by the African countries themselves.

However, it is worrying that the court itself seems to be paying its attention only to Africa and giving a blind eye to the warmongers in the west.

To underline that the ICC cannot be taken seriously, Robin Cook, the former British Foreign Secretary, once said the ICC was not set up to bring the British prime ministers or the United States presidents to book. So the question is if the ICC is not meant for the British and American leaders, then for whom was it set up? Its practice shows that it was meant for African leaders.

The ICC was purportedly created to promote security, peace, justice and reconciliation. However it has become a joke because of the way it selectively targets Africans. If the ICC could charge Sudanese President Omar al Bashir with war crimes for his role in the Darfur genocide and recently Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy for their role in the Kenyan post election violence of 2007, then surely former US President George Bush and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair should face war crimes for their role in the Iraq war.

These two leaders attacked a sovereign state without mandate from the UN Security Council and we are still waiting for them to show us the weapons of mass destruction they were looking for. All we see is unabated bloodshed and looting of oil in Iraq yet the two continue to live in luxury, with no justice in sight for the victims. As long as Bush and Blair roam the streets freely, the ICC remains a mirage.

When the AU announced its intention to debate its relationship with the Hague-based ICC, some eminent African figures raised objections. Of note were Koffi Annan, the former UN Secretary General and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa.

Annan said it would be shameful if African nations were to pull out of the ICC. Tutu stated that African countries should stop Sudan and Kenya from trying to drag Africa out of the ICC.

I am particularly interested in Tutu’s comments because he has at some point called for the arrest of Blair for his role in the Iraqi conflict. However, what the 1984 Nobel Peace prize laureate fails to realise is that the same ICC which has failed to bring Blair to book has indicted 28 Africans for far lesser crimes than Blair and Bush.

What Tutu is again failing to appreciate is that former Liberian president Charles Taylor is to serve a lengthy term in jail a couple of miles from where Bush lives in comfort.

The legal principles underlying the creation of the ICC leave a lot to be desired and that is why countries like America have enacted laws that protect their citizens from prosecution by the ICC.

The Americans have actually gone a step further declaring their right to invade The Hague to free Americans citizens who might have been indicted and facing prosecution. The Australians have also unwittingly taken similar measures.

Africans are however expected to send their citizens, including sitting presidents, to face humiliation in this sham of a court. In the recent past, the discord surrounding the court’s affairs is so humiliating from an African perspective.

An example is that of Al Bashir’s case when countries like South Africa declared that they would hand him over to the ICC if he sets foot on their territory while others welcomed him with both hands.

It is important now that the AU has taken a bold step in dealing with the ICC and from now onwards, African countries must speak with one voice and condemn the manner in which the court operates.

Both Luis Moreno Ocampo, the first prosecutor of the ICC and Fatou Bensouda, his successor, are legal minds of great repute. Their achievements in international law should enable them to take the necessary steps to ensure that the court operates freely, fairly and consistently.

As long as the court continues its bias against Africans, Africa should pull out and rightly so. As the current ICC prosecutor, Bensouda should spruce up the court’s damaged reputation by revisiting the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Libya, as well as the current drone war by the Obama regime and bring all those who have killed innocent women and children to book.

The AU has not resolved to pull out of the ICC but that still remains an option if the court’s conduct does not change drastically. The Addis Ababa summit laid a foundation for the AU to demand respect from the West and the world at large.

The next step by the AU should now focus on the reform of the United Nations, especially the long overdue permanent seat for Africa in the Security Council. That Africa deserves a permanent seat on the Security Council is not debatable. Africa cannot continue to look to Russia and China for decisions that affect the continent. The AU should build from the Addis Ababa summit and begin to take drastic decisions aimed at uprooting poverty on the continent.

With the vast amount of mineral and other resources on the continent, Africa cannot continue to rely on aid from nations which can barely survive without resources from the same African countries.

Africa needs a united voice on issues affecting the continent. This includes unity in stopping aggression against African countries, be it overt in the form of economic sanctions and political measures, or covert in the form of pseudo international law through the ICC.

To underline that the ICC cannot be taken seriously, Robin Cook, the former British Foreign Secretary, once said the ICC was not set up to bring the British prime ministers or the United States presidents to book. So the question is if the ICC is not meant for the British and American leaders, then for whom was it set up? Its practice shows that it was meant for African leaders.

Katungu is a social analyst and independent political thinker based in Johannesburg. He can be followed on twitter @ wizzieat



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    Robin Cook was indeed one of the last ethical British politicians.
    Clearly there should have been a trial over Iraq where millions were injured unnecessarily.

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    Chivulamapoti 9 years ago

    OK then, if Africans feel persecuted by the ‘biased’ ICC, try Mugarbage for Gukarunhundi via The SADC Tribunal. That body was set up by Africans for Africans, but Mugabage’s threats had it dismantled because of his guilt at Entumbane. You see, Zuma and the other Mugabage protectors will circumvent that too!

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      Gukarunhundi was never investigated due to the propaganda in the press., which the uneducated tend to believe much like the above article.
      It was set up by psychological warfare in Pretoria, the former Rhosdesian minister of home affairs joined same as their consultant on Zimbabwe, and his team of locals who disrupted the war vets for a living remained on the payroll.
      It was thought as Zimbabwe had turned pro socialist/communist at independence and with the cold war in the west that it would be overlooked which it was.
      Jack Straw stated opening the commons that he didn’t understand why the brit government of the day left it unremarked.
      In interview Tec Sutton Price said it was a very successful operation, Zimbabwe turned to capitalism – asked about missionaries and the innocent he said there is collateral damage in any operation.
      I have give names to the AG, what have you done other than promote propaganda covering up the truth so that those involved may move amongst you laughing at your stupidity.

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    Ian Khama, Pohamba of Namibia, Kikwete of Tanzania and even Sata are not even losing sleep over ICC.Why must we bother if we have accountable leaders?

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      We should bother because ubnlike them we had illegal sanctions imposed and economic sabotage which the west are responsible for.
      Of course there will always be those that live in the clouds that think we can afford to lose and just blame our government for the actions of others.

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    Jrr56 9 years ago

    Sad really, they behave like children. Throw my toys out the cot because I don’t like it. Who were the idiots that signed up to it in the first place if they did not think it applied to them?

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      The only children here are those that don’t research and write without knowledge, the reason im glad Zanu won the election not sellouts like you.

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    maisokwazo 9 years ago

    Look the ICC is a world acclaimed organization set up by civilized, educated and people in their right minds that is why Africans and Africa subscribed to it initially. Now that ICC is doing what it was set for some African leaders who are devilish are now crying foul and what garbage it is that yesterday you subscribe to ICC today you cry foul.Let Africa pull out of the ICC and let those in power do what they want nilly willy the law of the jungle that’s what you want so go for it.

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    Angel 9 years ago

    President Robert Mugabe’s form of racism is characterised by bombastic rhetoric (anti-capitalism; anti-Britain and USA, anti-West) in theory and a systematic slaughter of black opponents (anti-ZAPU [c1970 to1987]; anti-MDC [c2000 to 2010] and anti-African) in practice. Behind this hate language is a man that adores the British and Americans. His Savile Row suits; his Victorian home furniture; his European manufactured vehicles; and even his military hardware -are all from Britain, America and the West.
    Robert Mugabe’s pronunciation and enunciation of the Queen’s language is second to none. Before he was banned from Europe and America he could not spend a year without flying either to UK or USA. As a result he recklessly abused state funds importing rare and expensive materials to construct state of the art palaces similar to those of the most exclusive people in Europe and America. He received recognition for his imitation of Western culture from Universities and was even made a Knight of the Order of the Bath – whatever that is, by the Queen of England.
    But as he received these honours, he secretly authorised the systematic elimination of individuals, communities and organisations that questioned his deception and corruption. As a result the nation experienced waves of indiscriminate murders, assassinations, genocide, rape, even of children in schools and patients in hospitals, and torture – absolute chaos.

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      but as he received these honours – there is no evidence to connect president Mugabe to any of those crimes quoted, it is just propaganda and stories.
      Why not wrire about true atrocities, the murders next to Harare South Club where villagers eyes were removed and eye sockets and mouths filled with sadza.
      Reported in the Herald as gruesome murders overnight even babies were murdered.
      MDC banners werec erected on the fences.
      In comments MDC said it was in retaliation someone told the authorities about planned violence – message don’t speak about what you see or hear.
      Why do journalists not write about these murders which were real and reported to the police in preference to propaganda.

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    maisokwazo 9 years ago

    We don’t condone criminal acts but the bottom line of the matter is Zimbabwe has been rocked by perpetually by violence, criminal activities and corruption laid squarely on the marauding ZANU PF thugs who maraud and harass civilians for their political divergence and are never called in to account by the corrupt police, corrupt government and corrupt system.

    To say the opposition is responsible for murders is a gross insult to reason as never had the opposition planned a violent campaign and if they are involved in any violence is they are drawn into it and are defending themselves.