Please allow me to comment on Sunny Ntayombya’s article, “The ICC needs to enter the real world and embrace realpolitik”, published in The New Times on October 9.
The problem isn’t with the notion of international justice. In fact that is needed. The issue is this specific entity and the powerlessness of African countries collectively – and certainly singly – to be able to exert sovereign control over its work, even where it is critically essential.
No system of law can anywhere function for long without taking heed of popular sentiment (different from demagoguery). The ICC is more sensitive to the wishes of the West, including non-member US, than to any of its African members who are seen only as targets, not its masters.
As far as Africa is concerned, the ICC is an out of control (only for Africa) geopolitical pseudo-judicial weapon of terror in the hands of our erstwhile colonisers.Yes, African states signed on to it of their own volition, but they thought they were signing on to another specialised international organisation which would be susceptible to global democratic control (even here they were wrong, how much control do they already have on a runaway UN secretariat where nonentities likes Hege can run amok to defame member states with total immunity?).
The Africans’ perpetual error is to always sign or put our thumbs on pieces of paper put in front of us by foreigners in exchange for trinkets, without fully understanding what we are getting ourselves into, only seduced by the beads and that piece of calico cloth we want so much.
Rwanda refused to jump on the bandwagon because we have a close and less than endearing experience of how great powers can willy-nilly manipulate international institutions (they pay virtually all their budgets, and he who pays the piper makes sure the piper does his bidding, or else ...)
The ability of France, a very close ally of the former genocidal Rwandan Government, to get the UN Security Council to grant it a mandate to intervene in Rwanda in the middle of a genocide that country had abetted, to try to rescue their allies from impending defeat, was a clear eye opener for most Rwandans about how international organisations could be misused.
Our views were then confirmed by how the ICTR was created and its mandate was carefully designed to ensure it would never touch complicit French policy-makers who were complicit in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. With all this painful experience, few blandishments could work on Rwanda to become a turkey voting for Christmas.
The US refused to ratify because they feared the “court” might become a real “international” court on which they would not have a veto.
Mwene Kalinda, Kigali, Rwanda