With Africa currently reeling under increasing imperial siege, nothing could be as refreshing as the announcement by Zimbabwe that it will not ratify the Rome Convention, a statute that gave birth to the infamous International Criminal Court.
Under the Rome statute, the ICC can only investigate and prosecute four core international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression in situations where states are supposedly unable or unwilling to deal with them.
Interestingly, since its formation in 2002 the institution has exclusively targeted Africans or developing world leaders for prosecution. All the 26 people currently under prosecution at The Hague are Africans. One therefore inadvertently wonders if Africa is the only region blighted by crimes against humanity. Could the continent be the black sheep of the world?
A cursory look at other regions will, however, reveal staggering cases of crimes that perfectly falls into the purview of the criminal court. Some war crimes being perpetrated in Africa relatively pales in the shadow of gargantuan crimes being perpetrated daily in Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq yet the ICC remains mum choosing to remain fixated on the "black" continent.
Without digging deep into these pervasive crimes, the discriminatory conduct against Africa by the court is vividly captured by its inaction against the United States soldiers and their political leaders who criminally abused prisoners of war at Abu Ghraib in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
Gory scenes of human rights violations in the form of physical, psychological and sexual abuse, including torture, rape, and murder of prisoners was graphically brought to public attention. Normally, we would have expected the ICC to spontaneously activate its legal system to immediately deal with these rogue American soldiers and their complicit political leaders most of whom never faced any prosecution at home.
However, nothing was done as the court remained completely disinterested and manifestly emasculated.
Similarly, in the Middle East, Israel continues to brazenly slaughter Palestinians and expropriate their land in breach of international laws yet The Hague remains unfazed and its attention overly rivetted on Africa.
More so, Israel had used banned indiscriminate bombs like cluster and phosphorus bombs in its illegal military excursions into Palestine. All these crimes against humanity are committed with impunity yet the ICC does not raise a finger.
There are also innumerable crimes against humanity being perpetrated in Afghanistan and other far-flung places by the West in pursuance of its expansionist policies. Is it a coincidence that the ICC deliberately turns a blind eye to crimes universally committed by the West and its allies? Such a selective application of justice has openly cast aspersions on the conduct of the court. Besides these acute administrative shortcomings, the institution is also inherently flawed because of its skewed constitutive provisions.
Article 13 of the Rome Statute gives the UN Security Council the power to refer cases to the ICC or to defer the court's proceedings, even for countries that have not signed on to the ICC, as is the case of Sudan. It is an indisputable fact that the Security Council panders to the whims of the five veto wielding nations.
In this sense, these super powers hold the decisive power to place individuals before the court or block any attempts to place their citizens and leaders before the same court. To put it roughly, citizens of these powerful countries are practically immune from prosecution at The Hague.
It is because of this flawed dispensation that we will never see the two warmongers Tony Blair and George Bush appearing before this criminal court.
Perplexingly, three of the of the Security Council's veto wielding permanent members, China, Russia and the United States have not ratified the Rome Statute. The ICC is therefore clearly controlled by countries that are outside its ambit. In terms of fairness, this is glowingly flawed and untenable.
It empowers outsiders to persecute and prosecute their supposed enemies while at the same time shield their citizens from prosecution.
In addition to empowering non-signatory super powers to preside over the ICC, article 13 also unilaterally subjects weaker non-signatory countries to the court's jurisdiction. According to this article, citizens of non-signatory members can be forcefully hauled before The Hague at the instigation of the Security Council.
It is under this provision that Omar al-Bashir of Sudan was arbitrarily indicted and issued with a warrant of arrest despite his country being non-signatory country to the Rome Convention.
Interestingly, this provision nakedly abrogates the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, under which no country can be bound by the provisions of a treaty it has not signed. From this angle, the
Rome Statute becomes legally perforated and unsustainable.
Despite these legal and administrative shortcomings, the court's unparalleled focus on Africa is quite unsettling. Why is the ICC exclusively targeting African citizens for prosecution? Why is it manifestly ignoring other crimes being perpetrated in other regions of the world?