The ICC and its Enemies

The ICCs short existence has already created a number of concerns, mainly in Africa: Some genuine, others not, evidently making a more measured assessment of the ICCs relevance for Africa necessary.  I am in favor of most of the genuine concerns raised by Africans, but it would be a mistake to push them without proportions and make them political. Improvements and corrections on the approaches of the ICC going forward are the best avenue for our concerns. Outrage and political opposition only creates an atmosphere of uncertainty and capriciousness around international justice, democracy and stability in Africa. If we want to understand the real reason behind the vicious criticism and opposition towards the ICC is about, we first need to understand what it isn’t about. It certainly is not about reversing impunity and dictatorship.

The ICC faces real challenges of enforcing its arrest warrants. Eight warrants of arrest remain unexecuted; among them the most important is related to President Al-Bashir of Sudan. Nonetheless, the ICC and its focus on Africa serves as a perpetual notice to criminals, tyrants and would-be tyrants that there is a tribunal and judges constantly watching on them. They will always be put on notice that there are judges in The Hague waiting to try them. It serves as a reminder and a deterrent. The case for the ICC is much stronger than the arguments against it.

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