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Should Africa pull out of the ICC (International Criminal Court)?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/11/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 954 times Debate No: 38764
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As the African Union summit to be held at the weekend in Ethiopia nears, the question is should Africa pull out of the International Criminal Court.

The ICC has been prosecuting Africans only to date while yet letting off Western leaders concerning conflicts such as in Iraq and Libya.

George Bush went to Iraq on the pretext that there were arms of mass destruction, they did not find any weapons but he was not prosecuted.

Thirty-four African countries have ratified the Rome Statute, the international law that sets up the ICC. Yet the ICC ignores their views as it would those of charlatans, but is too happy to parrot the protestations of nations that are not even members.

Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria spring to mind. Why is the ICC so colour-sensitive?
The drafters of the Rome Statute had envisioned a court that superintends the world on matters genocide and crimes against humanity. But they were wrong. The British were clear from the beginning what the court would never do.

Former UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said it was not a court that would call to account British premiers or US presidents. The inference is clear: This is a court for Africans and other people of less importance!


While I see how frustrating it must be for an African to watch the early steps taken by the ICC, I would like to remind you that these are truly baby steps.

The concept of an international court has been discussed for about a hundred years, which in itself is a split second in the history of mankind, but the actual, operational ICC went into full force in 2002. That's barely 11 years ago. For most countries, it took longer to go from early revolution attempts to a true independence. And indeed I would not call the ICC independent -it's severely constrained by political pressures from its most powerful members, plus the obvious facts that the real heavyweights have either not signed or not ratified it. As a result, not only the prosecutions have unfairly focused on African countries, but even those who want to prosecute these African persons complain that the ICC is slow, cumbersome and/or ineffective. In summary, nobody seems to like the ICC.

But to me the point is in the development. Yes, this organism is full of defects and is not doing a great job. But it is still a huge step forward. For centuries, the political realists (they may be relatively new as a group of influential international politics theorists, but their basic ideas have been applied for much longer) have cynically observed that since there is no international legal system, then individual countries have the right to operate in their own interest with at least disregard for -and at most open opposition to- other countries wishes. And the even more cynical corollary to this is, once a country has been militarily overpowered or conquered, it loses its right to operate as an independent entity, becoming a pawn of its conqueror.

All this is focused in intercountry relationships, but it also applies to crimes committed within a country borders. Some dictators operate under a flimsy umbrella of legality. Some don't even worry about that. But they all assume they have impunity. Which is sadly true in most cases.

Has the ICC stopped any powerful country from dominating others? Of course not. Maybe it will never achieve that. Has it prosecuted all the dictators, leaders and warriors who have committed crimes against their own people or foreign nations, be them Africans or from anywhere else? Not even close. And once again, maybe they never will. Yet their incomplete, botched and unbalanced early efforts are what you would rationally expect from an organization which was created against all odds, with the open opposition or lukewarm indifference from most great powers. You have to be a crying baby before becoming a thinking adult.

I sincerely hope the ICC will eventually evolve into a fair, balanced and powerful institution. It might take a long time, so it probably won't happen in my lifetime, or it may never happen at all. Maybe the ICC will vanish and another organization will take its place. I don't know. But I do believe the idea behind it is just and deserves support. In the meantime, I feel the pain of those who feel unfairly targeted, but I beg them to be patient.
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