UN Security Council 'has failed Africa'

2013-11-18 08:49
President Uhuru Kenyatta

President Uhuru Kenyatta

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

New York - An African bid to postpone the International Criminal Court trials of Kenya's president and his deputy failed at the United Nations on Friday, which Kenya called a humiliation for Africa.

The African Union had requested that the UN Security Council defer the cases against Uhuru Kenyatta and his number two, William Ruto, for one year to allow them to deal with the aftermath of an attack by al Qaeda-linked Somali militants.

But the 15-member Security Council was split - seven members, including Russia and China, voted in favour, and eight abstained, including France, the United States and Britain. Resolutions need nine votes and no vetoes to pass. Britain, France, the United States, China and Russia hold veto powers.

Kenya, a key partner in the West's fight against militant Islam in Somalia, said the outcome highlighted the need for reform of the security council to prevent a few powerful nations imposing their will on the world.

Kenyatta and Ruto are accused of fomenting ethnic violence after Kenya's 2007 elections, in which 1 200 people died. Both deny the charges and have tried to have the cases adjourned or halted. Ruto's trial began last month, while Kenyatta's trial is due to start on 5 February after being delayed for a third time.

In a statement, Kenya's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said those who abstained showed "clear cowardice in the face of a critical African matter".

The African Union had made its request to the Security Council with the stability and security of the continent in mind, the ministry said.

"But the Security Council has failed to do this and humiliated the continent and its leadership," it said.

Justice for the victims

At least 67 people were killed in the Nairobi mall attack in September, the worst attack on Kenyan soil since al Qaeda bombed the US Embassy in 1998.

Rwandan UN Ambassador Eugene Gasana, who led the push for a resolution, said: "Let it be written today in history that the Security Council failed Kenya and Africa on this issue."

The Kenyan cases have stirred an African backlash against the ICC Court and sparked claims that the Security Council does not take Africa seriously enough.

African states put the resolution to a vote knowing it would fail.

"It has been insinuated that not joining the vote that favours the resolution is somehow an expression of ill will towards the African Union," said Guatemalan UN Ambassador Gert Rosenthal. "We find this view frankly offensive."

British UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant noted that the United Nations supports over 100 000 peacekeepers in Africa.

Western and Latin American council members believe the African concerns should be dealt with at the ICC and at a meeting this month of the Assembly of States Parties, which is made up of the 122 court members.

An Ipsos Synovate poll of 2 060 Kenyans showed on Thursday that 42% believe the ICC cases should continue, two percent thought they should be deferred, while almost a third wanted the trials dropped completely.

"We believe that justice for the victims of that violence is critical to the country's long-term peace and security. It is incumbent on us all to support accountability for those responsible for crimes against humanity," US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power told the council.

Sad and tragic

Concerns had been raised by some council members that a deferral could lead to impunity. But Ethiopia's U.N. Ambassador Tekeda Alemu said the notion Africa tolerated impunity was the mantra of those who treated Africans as unequals. Ethiopia is currently chair of the African Union.

The Security Council can defer ICC action for one year under Article 16 of the Rome Statute that established The Hague-based court a decade ago.

Seven of the members who abstained are ICC members - France, Britain, Guatemala, Argentina, South Korea, Australia and Luxembourg. The United States is not a member. The seven who voted yes are not court members - China, Russia, Togo, Azerbaijan, Rwanda, Morocco and Pakistan.

Kenyan UN Ambassador Macharia Kamau said after the vote that Africa's engagement at the Security Council had been met with "derision, suspicion, impatience and even irritation" and that Africa now believed that the body was not the destination for solving complex and fluid security and political problems.

"At every turn the boogie man of impunity and dictatorship is dragged out to devastating effect. This is wrong, and it is unfair, as it is sad and tragic," Kamau said.

The UN Security Council turned down a previous deferral request by Kenya in 2011 and rejected a request in May for the cases to be terminated because the council had no such power.





Read more on:    international criminal court  |  un  |  uhuru kenyatta  |  william ruto  |  kenya  |  east africa  |  kenya icc trials  |  africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
3 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.