Posts Tagged Darfur
It is silly season and everyone is going gaga over the ‘Hague’…. But I have my misgivings on the International Criminal Court which I am oft forced to reduce to nothing more than the usual window dressing, talkathons and razzmatazz that international bodies, such as the United Nations, seem to have been reduced to in the wake of powerful nations defying resolutions and vetoing what isn’t in their interest, albeit it might be in the wider global interest, refusing to sign up to protocols that call for collective responsibility such as environmental matters. The first discrepancy in this Court has to do with the claim of being ‘international’ which seems to be meant to convey pretences to universal acceptance and jurisdiction. To begin with only 108 states are members of the court with 39 other countries having developed cold feet when it came to ratifying the Rome Statute that established the Court on 1st July 2002; this also means the court cannot prosecute crimes committed before this date. The court itself is defined as a permanent tribunal tasked with prosecuting individuals for crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide and crimes of aggression.
With that out the way comes the part that bothers me regarding this court and its effectiveness: A glance at the countries that have refused to sign up as members or openly campaigned against the ICC is very telling; it is not reassuring that the world’s only superpower, The United States of America, is at the head of the rogue list, common allies like Israel are staunchly opposed to this Court and America and Israel ,being some of the most notorious aggressors on earth, it’s easy to see why. Other strange bedfellows in this alliance against an all-encompassing court include China, Russia, India, Iraq, Libya, Qatar and Yemen.
America’s exit from the court is a sad piece of Bush policy that I hope Obama has the guts to reverse; the U.S. was one of 139 countries which signed the Rome Statue, the very treaty establishing the ICC, however, the Bush administration was resistant to ratification and went ahead to announce to the UN of a unilateral decision by the U.S.to nullify its signature and thus withdraw its support (it was hitherto unheard of to ‘nullify’ a signature but oh well, this was Bush we are talking about). The Bush administration then went further and threatened to cut-off military aid to countries in the process of ratifying the Rome Statue who would not have clauses that exempt U.S. citizens and military personne;l effectively granting immunity from prosecution for such crimes as within the ICC’s jurisdiction.
The ICC has so far opened investigations into crimes committed in: DRC, Northern Uganda, the Central African Republic and Darfur (Sudan). 14 people have been indicted, of which 5 are still in custody, 7 remain free and 2 have passed on.
What I worry about then has to do with several issues that are apparent;
1. It speaks volumes that all the countries from which ‘criminals’ have been indicted, except for Radzic from Serbia, are in Africa and that is one coincidence I would love Ocampo to give me to understand.
2. Can the ICC have any real teeth when the world’s sole super-power has refused to sign and is in-fact coercing dependent states from ratifying their membership?
3. What does it imply when countries like China, India, Russia (members of the emerging trading block called BRIC which has most of the world’s population and dollar reserves) and the likes of Libya and Iraq team up with the States and Israel to fight the ICC?
4. It also has to be said that the ICC, even by its defined role, is meant to intervene in situations where a country doesn’t have functional courts or is basically in such turmoil as to have a government that is nothing more than a basket case; does Kenya really fit this profile or indeed is the scale of violence that took place in the aftermath of the last general elections really at par with the atrocities committed by the likes of Thomas Lubanga who enlisted children under 15 years of age to kill and main or Charles Taylor’s reign of terror in Liberia or Omar El-Bashir’s genocide in Sudan