Isdore Guvamombe


Well, it has been more than a month since South Africa, the biggest economy in Africa South of the Sahara, announced its decision to quit, the International Criminal Court, a permanent international criminal court, founded in 2002 by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to “bring to justice the perpetrators of the worst crimes known to humankind – war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide”, especially when national courts are unable or unwilling to do so.

South Africa was immediately followed by Gambia and Burundi, while other African countries like Malawi, Kenya and Uganda, have been making similar calls or manouvres.

About 120, mainly smaller countries are signatories of the ICC founding statutes and influential countries that have not signed or ratified the Rome Statute include United States of America, India, Indonesia, and China.  On May 6, 2002, the United States of America, in a position shared with Israel and Sudan, having previously signed the Rome Statute, formally withdrew its intent of ratification. That was under President Bill Clinton. Isreal? Does that not a ring a bell when you put Palestinians in the matrix?

At African Union level, Africa has been calling for reform at the United Nations and ICC is part of that system recognised by UN. Does this not tell a story? Is this not Africa’s call to reform UN that is getting loud and louder?

That the AU is fast moving from being a talk show and has operationalised its own continental court, the African Court of Justice, should ring as a loud bell that Africa is tired of being run by Europe. Africa is tired of being told what to do. Africa is tired of being treated like a young useless brother.

Countries that supported South Africa made it clear that ICC was an institution critically abused by some Western countries to effect regime change on African leaders, who refuse to tow the Eurocentric governance system.

Those who backed the idea that ICC should exist made several effort to prove that it was necessary. They said it will protect citizens. They said it will improve governance, etc. From a pedestrian approach, both sides seem correct in their arguments, but what is the reality on the ground? What are the facts on the ground?

It is fact not fiction that 72 members of the UN are not signatories to ICC statutes and this includes the biggest political and economic powers like the United States of America and China.

Their argument is that ICC limits state sovereignty and gives too much authority to the court and not their governments.

In the case of Washington, although it insisted and still insists in the arrest of Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir at African Union Summit in SA and his extradition to ICC for trial, US is not a signatory. What is clear is that the US uses ICC when it sees it fit to do so. Can that be mere double standards or hypocrisy and selfishness?

Being among those who signed Rome Statute of ICC the US was among the first to withdraw its signature from ICC claiming it violates the interests of American nation, moreover, the US went further to enact a law that authorizes a use of force to protect American citizens abroad, even if they have been arrested on ICC decision.

So ICC is not good for American citizens and their sovereignty but it is good for Americans when they want African leaders arrested?

Since the establishment of ICC, there was no case where a citizen of western countries have been arrested and tried.

Surprisingly some African leaders have been bunched together on the list with international terrorist organisations and at times have been arrested, eg Kenya and Sudan. How do you humiliate African leaders like that? Are African political parties regarded as terror groups? Are African Governments terror organisations?

Those who have followed event need not be reminded that an ICC prosecutor from the Gambia attempted to institute an investigation into US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq where thousands of civilians were killed in cold blood but nothing has come out of that case.

We all know how many wars the US has started the world over and killed thousands of people to make America great again. We know how many wars US has started to effect regime change and gain access to natural resources.

So for those opposed to ICC, it really looks like a “one-sided game” and it means that Africa does not have any chances  to win there.

In this case the idea of withdrawing from ICC looks very sensible and there shouldn’t be any contradictions between African countries over this issue.

Self-determination is the only true way to Africa and its leaders should be more active in criticizing such pro-western structures.

Next AU summit can be a great opportunity for African leader to come up with a common position on a landslide ICC withdrawal. ICC has betrayed African leaders and the African people.

Now that Africa has its own court of justice it might be necessary to have mandatory withdrawal from ICC and pay allegiance to the AU court of Justice which went operational in June 2016. Africa must now concentrate on strengthening its own court of justice. That is liberation and sovereignty.