A court for the savages

Does anyone recall this statement: "If I may say so, this is not a court set up to bring to book Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom or Presidents of the United States"?

Those words are from none other than the late Former UK Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, Robin Cook, live on television.

He had been asked in an interview if the UK did not fear prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for its actions during and after the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

How much more bluntly can it be put? With such a plain explanation from such a powerful man, no one should bother about why the US and its European buddies are not prosecuted for their massive crimes against humanity in the decade that the ICC has been in existence.

But let us side-track a little.

Do we ever pause to consider the fact that the total membership of the ICC consists of just one-third of the world's population?

We are often told that two-thirds of the members of the United Nations have ratified the Rome Statute that set up the ICC.

But this two-thirds of the UN membership, if we look at the populations of their countries, consist just 33 percent of the world's population.

In essence, the ICC is made up of a group of small countries.

One analysis - as reported elsewhere in this paper - represents a minority of the world's population despite the claim to being an "international" institution.

Says one analyst, "When you start down the list of the world's largest countries, the first four, and six of the top 10, are not members of the Court.

"In addition, very significant regions of the world -- Asia, the Middle East and North Africa -- are woefully underrepresented in the Court's membership.

"How do you create a significant international institution without the involvement of strategic powers such as China, India, Russia, Israel, Egypt, Pakistan, and the United States (a list that includes three of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council)?"

What we have then, in the ICC, is a minority court set up for the express purpose of not touching the leaders of the UK and the US, and imposing the will of these same untouchables on the rest of the world.

And while Robin Cook's - and by extension the UK governing establishment's attitude to the ICC is frankly disconcerting, more alarming is that of the United States.

Throughout the 1990s, the US Congress passed several resolutions supporting the creation of an international criminal court but one which provides safeguards to protect Americans from prosecution.

In between Monica Lewinsky and other shenanigans, Bill Clinton was involved in the negotiations leading to 1998 Rome Statute, which in turn led to the ICC's creation on July 1, 2002.

But Clinton's participation true to form - was to try and ensure an outcome that would not result in Americans being tried in an international court.

Clinton said, "I will not and do not recommend that my successor submit the treaty to the Senate ... until our fundamental concerns are satisfied."

His successor was to be George W Bush. And Bush's reaction to the ICC was typical of the gung-ho cowboy with a nuclear arsenal who invaded Iraq because of non-existent weapons of mass destruction.

He not only declined to put the Rome Statue before the US Senate, he went a step further and - together with that dyed-in-the-wool rightwing Senator called Jesse Helms initiated what is known as the American Service-members' Protection Act.

This law is also referred to as the Hague Invasion Act, and with good cause.

The Hague Invasion Act is an amendment to the National Defence Authorisation Act and its stated purpose is "to protect United States military personnel and other elected and appointed officials of the United States government against criminal prosecution by an international criminal court to which the United States is not party".

The law gives the US President authority to use "all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release of any US or allied personnel being detained or imprisoned by, on behalf of, or at the request of the International Criminal Court".

This means the US can and will bomb The Hague in Holland - where the ICC is housed - if any American is brought before that court.

So there you have it: a minority court that survives at the mercy of the US and the UK is supposed to be responsible for maintaining global law and order.

Stephen Asiimwe, writing for the New Vision newspaper of Uganda ahead of the court's 10th anniversary on July 1, 2012 said: "ICC will continue to pick the weak people, take them to The Hague and hang them."

And Africa, as divided and lily-livered as we are, will not do anything about it, In fact, a la Joyce Banda, we will tell fellow Africans that they are not welcome in our countries if they are indicted by this minority court.

Not surprising at all.

[Source: By Geoffrey Robertson, The Southern Times, Namibia, 20Jul12. Geoffrey Robertson, a prominent UK lawyer and a Queen's Counsel, said at the time of the ICC's inception]

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