Dangers Ahead For International Justice – A Very Brief Reaction to David Bosco’s Post

David Bosco is raising the alarm on his excellent blog The Multilateralist over at Foreign Policy on some potentially very bad news for the international criminal justice project, regarding the ICC’s difficulties in Africa and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s delicate mission in an explosive-as-ever Lebanon.

The post is not very long, so it is difficult for me to quote excerpts without quoting the entire thing (which would not be appropriate without the author’s approval), so I can only strongly suggest you read it.

I do not have time for a detailed response, so I will have to content myself with two quick observations:

Regarding an engineered African withdrawal from the Rome Statute, the threat is undeniably there, and I do not doubt the credibility of the reports David Bosco mentions. However, things are a little more complex than what they appear, as Africa is a) not a homogeneous block – some African States are very pro-ICC, others a bit less, a few outright anti-; b) some African States do have an interest in having the ICC intervening in their country, and c) I was surprised while reading the statements given by delegations at the latest Assembly of States Parties at how conciliatory and even positively low-profile the African States’ declarations were. You’d think for a continent plotting to leave the Rome Statute in a coup, they would raise the issues bothering them in a louder fashion than what they did last month.

I sincerely doubt anything would happen before the Prosecutorial elections next year. The African group has a strong chance of having elected an African Prosecutor for the ICC, and I simply do not see them forfeiting that chance.

Regarding the situation in Lebanon, it is particularly delicate and one I have been meaning to write on for quite a while, and probably will as soon as I have a little more time on my hands (I still have a pile of reports on Lebanon to go through first). But it seems clear that the difficulties at the heart of the peace versus justice debate have never been so discernible and clear-cut than it is there. This is a situation to monitor and think about, for both sides.

Hopefully, I will have time to write more about each situation soon.


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  1. #1 by CRY ME AN ONION on 11 January 2011 - 23:47

    I read Don Bosco’s blog. Also, I like the term neocolonial: Africa, when it is convenient, likes to play martyr to the past.
    Anyway, it is true that Kenya is active in trying to obtain an AU block pull out from ICC.

    See today’s article in the Nation Newspaper: http://www.nation.co.ke/News/-/1056/1088072/-/11fxbcdz/-/index.html

    I think they have a chance in succeeding taking into consideration that a large majority, if not all, of African leaders are corrupt and will not hesitate to protect each other.
    I hope to be wrong but ICC is in trouble and the age of Africa’s impunity is again peeking at the door.

    • #2 by Xavier Rauscher on 12 January 2011 - 14:53

      Mr. Patrick-Bernard, I like your style. Thanks for commenting on the blog: your comments are always an enjoyable read and addition.

      All that being said, I do hope you’re dead wrong, too. 😉

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