Friday, July 24, 2009

Africa and the ICC: The Whole truth?

The past few weeks there have been a number of commentaries and opinion pieces lamenting the decision by the AU to refuse to cooperate with the ICC with regard to arresting Sudanese President al-Bashir. However, not much has been said about whether the reason given by African leaders for this apparent about-turn - that the ICC is neo-imperialistically persecuting African states and leaders - has any merit.
The decision not to cooperate, which places the thirty African states who are parties to the ICC (including South Africa) in violation of their treaty obligations to do so, cannot be easily dismissed. More needs to be said about the political nuances of this decision, and the actions of the ICC Prosecutor that have brought the relationship between African states and the ICC to this point...
Further, it might also be useful to remind oneself of the outright refusal of the US to cooperate with the Court and the lengths it has gone to in order to prevent its citizens and leaders from ever finding themselves before it. This is not to exculpate the AU, but rather to avoid unfairly singling out African states and reinforcing unhelpful and misplaced stereotypes that have regrettably found expression in numerous pieces written on this matter to date.