By Justice Hub
The Weekly Hubble looks at current discussions about the International Criminal Court or topics relating to International Justice.
The African focus of the International Criminal Court has come in for quite a bit of analysis this week. On the one hand, the court has yet again been called out for being racist, imperialist and only prosecuting Africans. But some scholars say the court’s problems go deeper than any apparent fixation with one continent. With the ICC being bashed, battered and bruised from all directions, the Weekly Hubble dove in to the world of tweets, blogs and op-eds to see where the conversation is heading.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailermariam Desalegn spear-headed this week’s criticism of the ICC – with a well-worn critique for focusing on Africa.
“Our policy is clear from the outset – that the court [ICC] is made to intimidate and harass African leaders,” he said. “We will continue to formally stand against it [the court] and will make our position known when the time comes.”
Delving rather deeper, Sophie Rigney – a former ICTY defence lawyer turned PhD candidate and lecturer based in Melbourne – points out that the court’s choices has made on which investigations to pursue has laid it open to such criticisms.
“But the real pressure is in the tense relationship between the ICC and African governments. While the ICC has been asked to investigate alleged crimes in 139 countries – including Australia, for its asylum seeker policies – it has proceeded to investigations in fewer than a dozen countries, all of them in Africa.”
But has that been a deliberate choice? In an article published by The Conversation, Mattia Cacciatori – PhD candidate at Bath University – argues that the international relations world in which the court sits is the key to understanding its limitations.
“Ultimately, the ICC’s “obsession” with Africa has to be understood as a factor of both the Court’s limited legitimacy and its dependence on the politics of the UN, rather than base racism.”
Maybe though it’s just a matter of PR, optical illusions and finding a “suitable” non-African conflict, says Sunny Ntayombya in a blog post at Waza Online.
“And truth be told, it won’t hurt the ICC’s reputation if Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda indicted someone with pale skin. Yes, it’s nice to see an African at the ICC’s helm, but until she sinks her teeth into someone who isn’t from this continent, she will always be treated like an Uncle Tom, doing her master’s will.”
Still, that may not be enough to rebuild the court’s battered reputation. David Rieff, a writer and policy analyst, believes that the ICC is sliding down a slippery slope that could take ages to climb back up.
– Will the ICC find a case outside Africa soon?
– Will the UNSC stop referring African cases to the court?
– How much legitimacy has the ICC lost…and will it ever get it back?
Have you read an interesting article on this topic – or do you have an opinion on the future of the ICC and its focus on Africa? Join the discussion with #WeeklyHubble on Twitter, Facebook or in the comments section below.\
Lead image: Victor Ndula is a cartoonist who works for Cartoon Movement.
The Weekly Hubble features the most popular or controversial international justice story of the past week and reactions on social media to the news.