ICC needs global buy-in

2013-10-13 14:00

Yesterday’s extraordinary meeting of the African Union in Addis Ababa should be a salutary lesson for the International Criminal Court (ICC) – whatever the outcome.

It is cause for concern that the union’s member countries became so unhappy with, and uncertain about, the role the ICC should play on the continent.

The meeting had been a long time coming.

In the past few years, several African leaders were indicted by the ICC – Liberia’s Charles Taylor (who was convicted), Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta, Ivory Coast’s Laurent Gbagbo and the late Muammar Gaddafi of Libya among them.

But there is a sense that the rules of justice are not fairly applied by the ICC across the board.

The ICC’s intentions are noble enough.

The court’s aim is to be an independent, permanent court that tries people accused of the most serious crimes of international concern, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

It looks good on paper, and Africa needs such a court – especially when one looks at its history and the heinous crimes that have been committed with no one brought to book for them.

It’s important, too, that Africa does not think it can operate in a vacuum, beyond the boundaries of international law.

Whatever is decided, the ICC must work towards ensuring that all the countries of the world are signatories to the Rome Statute and are members of the court, so that they can be subjected to the same strictures if they commit crimes against humanity.

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