Friday, November 11, 2016

ICC Shooting Self in the Head
November 9, 2016
Opinion & Analysis
Stephen Mpofu Correspondent
Zimbabwe Herald

United Nations Secretary General Mr Ban Ki-Moon says he understands concerns that have been expressed at the International Criminal Court of Justice at the Hague, Netherlands, which include prosecutions dragging on for years, not all countries recognising the ICC’s jurisdiction and that only Africans have been convicted by the criminal court.

“These challenges are best addressed not by diminishing support for the court, but by strengthening it from within,” the UN chief was quoted as saying in New York on Friday last week when commenting on decisions by African countries to withdraw from the ICC.

He said: “Deterring future atrocities, delivering justice for victims, and defending the rule of law across the globe are far too important priorities to risk a retreat from the age of accountability that we have worked so hard to build and solidify.”

Ban Ki-moon speaks of the imperative need to “defend the rules of war across the globe”.

But Africa is not the entire world so that the ICC’s zeroing in on the continent to the exclusion of other countries where war crimes have and continue to be committed with eloquent impunity raises more questions than legitimate answers by Mr Ban Ki-Moon for the progressive world to swallow. It must be understood, however, that this pen does not at all imply that the ICC is irrelevant. Far from it.

In fact, the ICC is essentially relevant and good for Africa. However, self-distanciation by some African countries from that institution is apparently triggered by a belief, that appears indisputable, that the Hague based criminal court, founded in 1998, is no longer good for Africa, having allowed itself to be used by the West as both a racist tool and a symbol of contemporary imperialism.

South Africa and Burundi have already officially notified Mr Ban of their decision to pull out of the ICC set up under the Rome Statute, with the Gambia saying it also plans to leave the court, and with Namibia and Kenya also contemplating their own exit.

Ban Ki-Moon is due to leave office early next year, replaced by Portugal’s former prime minister Antonio Guterres and so the South Korean will depart from the world spotlight leaving behind a world order in disorder so to speak.

Some of the countries leaving the ICC have charged it with turning a blind eye to Western countries that have been engaged in war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq for instance, with Britain and the United States being indicted over war-mongering in the Arab world but getting away unscathed on account of their Big Brother statuses.

Of course, the US does not recognise the 124 ICC member states, obviously for reasons best known to itself and one of which must be that its impunity as the only super power in the world should not be subject to questioning by anybody.

Now, instead of whining about Africa’s withdrawal from the ICC, which might or might not develop into a stampede if African leaders continue to view themselves as targets for victimisation by the criminal court and at the behest of Western imperialist machinations, why does not Mr Ban use his good office to insure that non-African powerful figures involved in war crimes are also subjected to the wrath of the law to bring complete order to the world order as a legacy of his rule at the United Nations?

Also, the UN Security Council has remained an exclusive club of powerful nations as permanent members wielding powers to vito resolutions that they dislike, while Africa remains in the shade and being subjected to dragging by the nose by the big boys in spite of the continent’s huge population of over 1 billion people.

Our own President Robert Mugabe has spoken repeatedly and vehemently about the need to change the Security Council’s untouchable status which has made Africa a political leper with whispers or muted threats by other African leaders for the continent to pull out of the United Nations in protest at not being represented in the Security Council.

The name United Nations at once suggests equality in the status of member states to anyone hearing its mention, and non-discrimination or isolation of some members from any of the august body’s structures.

What the discourse above suggests as things stand today, the world body might not achieve the mandate it bestowed upon itself at its rebirth from the League of Nations as the United Nations if its structures work like believers and non-believers on a journey.

Africa appears as the only believer in the UN’s journey and as such the continent might wish to consider setting up its own criminal courts in various countries to deal with leaders accused of committing war crimes, and such a move will render the ICC irrelevant and with that its alleged biases against African leaders.

The African Union can supervise the setting up of the criminal courts in member states which will be both essentially and relatively good for the peoples of Africa, with the result that any war-mongering leaders will think twice before plunging their countries into chaos and with that retard the social and economic emancipation of a continent immensely rich in minerals and wildlife.

The ICC should stand warned that its discriminatory tendencies against African leaders while treating war criminals elsewhere on the globe as sacred cows are akin to shooting itself in the head.

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