Wed, 16 October 2013
Desmond Tutu is Wrong: The AU Should Quit the International Criminal Court
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
“He might just as well argue for the return of colonial rule, which established its own kind of law and order in Africa.”
The African Union is on a collision course with the International Criminal Court, a tribunal that has indicted only Africans since its founding in 2002. In an extraordinary meeting of the African Union at it headquarters in Addis Abbaba, Ethiopia, the AU took the position that no sitting head of state should be prosecuted by the ICC while still in office. In the immediate term, the AU calls for the postponement of the trial of Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, scheduled to begin in the The Hague, next month. Kenyatta and his deputy president are charged with crimes against humanity stemming from election violence in 2007. Last weekend, President Kenyatta told the African Union that the International Criminal Court “stopped being the home of justice the day it became the toy of declining imperial powers” – a clear reference to the United States and Britain.
And that is the heart of the matter. It is a travesty of justice that the ICC only indicts Africans, but even more importantly, the International Criminal Court also only indicts those politicians that get on the wrong side of the United States and the former colonial powers in Africa. The ICC is a tool of U.S. foreign policy, an instrument of neocolonialism.
Among the apologists for the ICC is South African former archbishop Desmond Tutu, who says African leaders are “effectively looking for a license to kill, maim and oppress their own people without consequence.” Tutu says it all boils down to a question of “who should represent the interests of the victims?” However, in the real world of imperial power, Desmond Tutu’s reasoning is specious, shallow. He might just as well argue for the return of colonial rule, which established its own kind of law and order in Africa. The question is, whose law and whose order? The ICC represents U.S. foreign policy masquerading as law.
“The ICC is a cog in the imperial machinery.”
Tutu maintains that, without the deterrence of the ICC, African “countries could and would attack their neighbors, or minorities in their own countries, with impunity.” Well, that is, in fact, the case right now in Africa, and it has occurred with the complicity of the ICC, which has sanctioned and morally assisted mass murder and outright genocide by American allies on the continent.
And here lies the great irony. The very nations that most strongly oppose the ICC – Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia – have the blood of millions on their hands. Rwanda and Uganda are principally responsible for the death of six million Congolese over the past 17 years, an ongoing genocide armed and financed by the United States and Britain. The Ethiopian regime’s brutality toward its Somali and Omoro ethnic groups has also been described as genocidal. But, because the United States is also deeply complicit in these crimes, there is no threat of prosecution by the International Criminal Court. The court is only deployed against those countries and leaders targeted by the United States.
So, why are Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda worried? Clearly, they understand that, if the United States can give impunity, it can also take it away. They remember that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein used to be a U.S. ally, and that Libya’s Muammar Gadaffi and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad cooperated with the U.S. war on terror – until the U.S. turned against them. The worst purveyor of crimes against humanity in Africa and the world is U.S. imperialism. The ICC is a cog in the imperial machinery, which recognizes no law, but only its own interests. You can’t fight U.S. Empire and its crimes and, at the same time, defend the International Criminal Court. They are one and the same.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.