Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Africa and the International Court

Eleven years ago when I opened the Rome conference that led to the founding of the International Criminal Court, I reminded the delegates that the eyes of the victims of past crimes and the potential victims of future ones were fixed firmly upon them. The delegates, many of whom were African, acted on that unique opportunity and created an institution to strengthen justice and the rule of law.

Now that important legacy rests once more in the hands of African leaders as they meet in Libya on Wednesday. The African Union summit meeting will be the first since the I.C.C. issued an arrest warrant for Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes for his alleged role in the atrocities in Darfur.

The African Union’s repeatedly stated commitment to battle impunity will be put to the test. On the agenda is an initiative by a few states to denounce and undermine the international court. In recent months, some African leaders have expressed the view that international justice as represented by the I.C.C. is an imposition, if not a plot, by the industrialized West.

In my view, this outcry against justice demeans the yearning for human dignity that resides in every African heart. It also represents a step backward in the battle against impunity.

Over the course of my 10 years as United Nations secretary general, the promise of justice and its potential as a deterrent came closer to reality. The atrocities committed in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia moved the Security Council to set up two ad hoc tribunals, building on the principles of post-World War II courts in Nuremberg and Tokyo.

These new tribunals showed that there is such a thing as effective international justice.

But these ad hoc tribunals were not enough. People the world over wanted to know that wherever and whenever the worst atrocities were committed — genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity — there would be a court to bring to justice anyone in a government hierarchy or military chain of command who was responsible. That principle would be applied without exception, whether to the lowliest soldier or the loftiest ruler.

Thus the International Criminal Court was formed. It now has 108 states, including 30 African countries, representing the largest regional bloc among the member states. Five of the court’s 18 judges are African. The I.C.C. reflects the demand of people everywhere for a court that can punish these serious crimes and deter others from committing them. Read more >>>>>>

2 comments:

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gorden said...

Crime is crime and thanks to ICC where jury takes the right decision.

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