2012-10-10 05:11

Congratulations to Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu for being awarded a “one-off “ special award by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation in recognition for his unvarying commitment to speaking truth to power.

In announcing the Award, the Board of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which supports good governance and great leadership in Africa, said: “This Special Award to Archbishop Desmond Tutu is motivated by the desire to make an extraordinary grant to an outstanding African civil society champion. Archbishop Desmond Tutu is and has throughout his life been one of Africa’s great voices for justice, freedom, democracy and responsible, responsive government. In everything he stands for, says, and does, he displays a consistent determination to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak the uncomfortable truth.”

Tutu personifies George Orwell's quotation: “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

It is my earnest wish that all business people, privileged leaders, the political hierarchy as well as community and religious leaders will take a page out of Tutu’s book and aspire to like recognition.

In recent times Tutu made global headlines when he withdrew his attendance at a Discovery leadership summit, because former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was speaking at the same event. In withdrawing from the leadership summit Tutu said Blair’s decision to support the United States’ military invasion of Iraq, on the basis of unproven allegations of the existence in Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, was morally indefensible. Tutu also called for Blair and former US President George Bush to face prosecution at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for their roles in the 2003 United States-led invasion of Iraq.

In this regard, I agree with Archbishop Tutu that Tony Blair and former US President George W Bush should be tried at the International Criminal Court in The Hague for lying to the world about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction in order to justify invading the country.

Many analysts or experts also believe that the “shock and awe” in Iraq was the very definition of terrorism and an ultimate disrespect and disregard for international law.

Benjamin Ferenccz, who was a Chief Prosecutor of Nazi war crimes at Nuremberg, said that former US President George W. Bush should face war crimes trial as the aggressive war in Iraq constitutes a “supreme international crime” capable of prosecution in an international court. Ferenccz says that the United Nations Charter unequivocally states that no nation can use armed force without United Nations Security Council permission.

Similarly, former prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi writes in his book; “The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder”, George W. Bush took the United States of America into the invasion of Iraq under false pretences and should be tried for murder for the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq.

Likewise a seven-member Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal held in Malaysia, found former George W. Bush and several other high ranking members of the American government, guilty of war crimes.

Although the tribunal, which consisted of former federal judges and several academics, may not have the power to sentence or imprison, but the guilty verdict against the former British and American leaders was unanimous. Many conscience driven people believe its symbolic merit is beyond doubt. This War Crimes Tribunal, which also had an American law professor as one of its main prosecutors, is a reminder that no one should be above the law.

International justice can only be fair and acceptable when all war criminals, not only targeted despots, are arrested and brought under the jurisdiction of a single court.

Sadly, the International Criminal Court (ICC) appears to be dominated mainly by American and European or Western concerns and merely for selected criminals. The ICC should be consistent when dealing with people that are responsible and guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. It seems the rich and powerful are given impunity by the ICC.

To have global standing the ICC needs to apply the same criteria to every leader who perpetrates crimes in other countries as well as his own.

The double standards and contradictions in global politics are among the central factors behind the menace of terrorism. There seems to be separate sets of laws for different leaders.


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