Simone Gbagbo, the former first lady of Ivory Coast, has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Netherlands. Her husband was overthrown by France and the United States during 2011., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Africa must unshackle itself from the ICC
November 27, 2013 Opinion & Analysis
THE decision by the United Nations Security Council to reject a request by the African Union (AU) to defer the International Criminal Court (ICC) trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto was not only a slap in the face of the African continent but an insult to continent’s conscience and a mockery to its territorial integrity.
When the Arab League in March 2011 called for the United Nations Security Council to impose a no-fly zone on Libya, the whole Council acceded and steadfastly adopted resolution 1973 (2011) to operationalise the request. This was expeditiously done on the understanding that the League carries the ideological and moral authority to decide what was best for its member state.
It therefore boggles the mind that when the AU decided to exercise its ideological authority to request for a one year deferral of the Kenyan case, the request was contemptuously rejected.
Faced with unremitting and exclusive targeting of its citizens by the ICC, the rejection of its Kenyan request by the Security Council blatantly ridiculed the AU’s ideological and moral authority over its member states.
What is left is for Africa to react to this condescending development. Africa has several options but indications on the ground are that some African member states to the Rome Statute that govern the ICC have decided to go it alone. They have decided to kowtow to the Security Council ruling by demanding inconsequential logistical adjustments to the trial of Kenyan leaders. Such lukewarm supplications do not bring back the lustre of Africa’s eroded integrity.
Those African nations would be forgiven for their initial naiveté for signing to become member states to the Rome Statute as it was unbeknown to them that the ICC was a legal lapdog designed to subvert the collective conscience of Africans.
However, what is unforgivable and repugnant is the brute and blinkered determination by these nations to continue subscribing to the ICC when the writing on the wall is clear that the institution is severely toxic to the preservation of African integrity.
Since its establishment, the Geneva-based court has become a charade used to entrench century old neo-imperial prejudices that Africa is eternally a place of barbarians and war criminals.
The ICC is unashamedly saying there is no other continent with war criminals but Africa! No other place has wars but Africa!
The question that begs for an answer is why Africans should continue to subject themselves to such legal chicanery?
The time is nigh for Africa to accept the futility of subjecting itself before the pseudo-international court. The time is nigh for the continent to take self-preservation measures to unshackle itself from the neo-imperial grip of the ICC.
Africa is the only continent with nations that have referred cases to the ICC. The United States of America has refused to ratify the Rome Statute and has even instituted laws that shield its citizens from prosecution at the ICC.
The Europeans established the European Court of Justice to safeguard the continent’s collective integrity. Instead of exposing their continent to the intrusive whims of an exogenous court, they established their own legal edifice that answers to questions raised by their national courts.
The importance of continental courts is that they consider legal cases guided by a given cultural, political or ideological context.
This was seen at the European Court of Justice when it made a ruling allowing on gay refugees from a country where people are jailed for being homosexual to qualify for asylum in the EU.
This is an ideological ruling that could not have seen the light of day at other exogenous courts that do not prescribe to the nature-subverting practice of homosexuality.
If Africa could establish a similar court, it would be alive to the contextual forces driving the continent’s ideological, economic and social dispensations. The African court could be fully financed by member states to avoid scenarios where donor nations would seek to direct court determinations like what happened with the disbanded and disgraced Sadc Tribunal whose strings were pulled by some nefarious neo-imperial donors.
The continent could even draw lessons from Zimbabwe’s withdrawal from the Commonwealth Group of Nations. Zimbabwe realised after some torrid experiences that the Commonwealth was nothing but a Trojan horse created to preserve the hegemony of the former colonial power, Britain.
After being unwarrantedly ostracised and vilified and positioned as a pariah state for redistributing its land, Zimbabwe decided to sever ties with the tea drinking and Queen worshipping club.
Africa cannot afford to repose its justice on exogenous courts. In order to restore its integrity, the African Union should boldly advise its members to immediately withdraw their membership from the ICC.
The group should forthwith start working on establishing its own court to adjudicate on continental matters in a Pan-African manner.