THIS IS A CONTINUATION OF YESTERDAY’S OPINION
5. Civil society and political society
Civil society is, as its name indicates an organization of citizens who are in charge of promoting the well defined rights and interests of a well-defined category of the population.
On the other hand, political society is in charge of protecting the rights and interests of society as a whole.
Today, it is organized in political parties that seek to exercise political power.
Both the civil and political societies get their legitimacy from the freedom of association that is the right of all citizens in a democratic society. But the citizens of a country cannot assert this right beyond its borders.
AI, HRW, RWB, ICG and others do not have this right outside the states in which their members are citizens. In the same way, African organizations of the civil society do not have this right in Asia, Europe or America.
A good example will make this clear.
Mrs. Alison des Forges, a distinguished specialist on African affairs and HRW consultant, wrote a thesis for a doctorate on one of the Rwandan kings, but being able to write a thesis on Rwanda dos not give her the right to give instructions on how Rwanda should be governed. And, of course, Rwanda had not commissioned her research and did not need or have to consult her.
The citizens’ right to call their government to account and keep it from sleeping on its (false) laurels, which Socrates used effectively in his city of Athens, has been usurped in Africa by the likes of AI, HRW and others. This function should naturally be carried out by the local civil society.
The colonial heritage and all it represents comes in to reinforce this self-assigned right to interfere. Recently, the rebirth of colonialism was completed with the creation of the international criminal courts (ICC) and the sharing out of international institutions among the new masters of the world.
The neo-colonial machine is back in place. More than ever before, the West does not want us to be like them. They only want our obedience. In reality the root of this problem is based in the time when Europe took it upon itself to recreate the world in its own image
6. The natural judge of all citizens.
“Rwanda has always wanted to be at the forefront of pursuing and bringing to justice persons suspected to have participated in the massacres (the genocide) organized on her territory in 1994”, concedes IRIN .
For Rwanda, like for any other country, rendering justice to all her citizens is not a simple wish as IRIN deems to concede; it is a right. The natural judge for every citizen is the state. If today Rwanda plays only a small part in judging the perpetrators of the genocide, the worst crime in nature and history, it is because of several reasons: the first is that in the absence of an international government, the law simply belongs to the strongest. In 1994, Rwanda wanted to judge its nationals suspected of genocide on its territory, but the UN denied it the right.
The second reason for denying weak states the natural right to judge their citizens is, as we have already seen, dependence in terms of human and material resources. The third reason that some pretend not to recognise is colonial contempt which has never gone anywhere. AI works using the factors of dependence and contempt.
The creation of the ICC is also based on the view that poor and under developed countries are incapable of rendering justice in general and particularly to their citizens in an appropriate way, according to the so-called “international standards”
7. Before reaching Utopia we are going through a formidable jungle
It is true also that a bit of Utopia is involved: the Utopia of international justice where no impunity can exist even at the highest level of government.
This Utopia is legitimate only as something to dream about; a fictitious country where all is perfect. It will remain unreal as long as there is no international government for all the citizens of the world. International justice is moving faster than its legitimate base, the international government. This lack of a base for legitimacy will only lead to jurisdiction of the strong over the weak.
8. Presumption of competence
It is possible that these considerations exceed the conscious preoccupations of AI and others. These organizations are themselves products of a largely unconscious attitude.
If the opinions of AI and HRW are more important than those of the ICTR experts who inspected the system of justice in Rwandan, it is in accordance with a generally accepted idea, a presumption nevertheless, that AI and HRW have competence and integrity by virtue of their position.
Competence and integrity, like all other human concepts, cannot be limited to the opinions of only one person (as in the case of HRW with regard to Rwanda). They have their ups and downs, change, become obsolete, or even disappear.
To be continued