THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS - JULY 23: View of the International Criminal Court as Dutch prosecuters consider a war crimes investigation of the Malaysia Airlines crash July 23, 2014 in The Hague, The Netherlands. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack.
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As of 10 November 2011, 139 countries have signed the 1997 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC Convention). Of the 139 countries that had signed the Rome Statute, 31 have not ratified it. These countries include Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Cameroon, Egypt, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Iran, Israel, Jamaica, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Monaco, Morocco, Mozambique, Oman, Russia, São Tomé and Príncipe, Solomon Islands, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States, Uzbekistan, Yemen, and Zimbabwe

The fact that these countries did not ratify the ICC Convention means that the ICC cannot indict and try their citizens for committing certain international crimes, including genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.  According to the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, a state that has signed but not ratified a treaty is obliged to refrain from “acts which would defeat the object and purpose” of the treaty. However, these obligations do not continue if the state makes clear that it does not intend to become a party to the treaty. In this regard, countries which expressed their intention not to be bound up with the ICC Convention include Israel, Sudan and USA. These three countries – irrespective of being signatory states to the ICC Convention – had informed the UN Secretary General that they no longer intend to become parties to it, and as such have no legal obligations arising from their signature.

African countries have expressed their unhappiness with the biased approach of the ICC, resulting in three countries to declare their intention to withdraw from the obligations arising from the ICC Convention. So far, these countries are Burundi, South Africa and Gambia.
Other afore-mentioned African countries such as Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, Egypt, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Morocco, Mozambique and Zimbabwe may follow suit by just stating that they have no longer intention to become party to the ICC Convention and that no obligation should be interpreted to arise from their signatures. In so doing, African countries would be defying the emerging trend of colonising Africa through international justice system. An injustice to one African is an injustice to all. The ICC had proved to Africans that it acted in the interest of colonial masters and does not adhere to the judicial principle of dispensing justice without fear, favour, or prejudice.

Although countries are being demonised when they state their intention to leave the ICC, there are 42 Countries which have neither signed nor acceded to the Statute:  Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bhutan, Brunei, China, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, North Korea, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Mauritania, Micronesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niue, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Togo, Tonga, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu and Vatican City and Vietnam.  In light of this fact, it is clear that seven African countries namely, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Mauritania, Rwanda, Somalia, Swaziland and Togo are not parties to the ICC convention. Those countries leaving the ICC seem to agree with these seven countries on the argument that African affairs should be dealt with by African themselves. Yes, Marcus Garvey once wrote in his poem entitled “Africans for Africans” that: Say! Africa for the Africans, Like America for the Americans: This rallying cries for a nation, Be it in peace or revolution. Blacks are men, no longer cringing fools; they demand a place, not like weak tools; But among the world of nations great; they demand a free self-governing state.” Indeed, African nations want to be independent. They want to be free. Therefore, leaving the ICC is a move supported by many Africans. However, the pertinent question is how international crimes would be dealt with on the African continent. African children are crying not only for freedom in their fatherland but also for justice for their beloved one who perished due to state-sponsored violence. These countries include Rwanda.

Rwanda has experienced flagrant human rights abuse prior to and after the establishment of the ICC. These human rights abuse include genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. It is therefore unfortunate that Rwanda does not support the ICC. It did not either sign or ratify the ICC Convention. Why? In 2013, Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo was quoted calling the ICC “a political court” which Rwanda can never believe in its jurisdiction. In 2008, President Kagame called the ICC a “fraudulent institution” that is made for small countries, especially, those countries, which did not grasp fully what they were doing when they signed and ratified the ICC Convention. Irrespective of its defiance to recognise the jurisdiction of the ICC, Rwanda was politically coerced by the West, when it agreed to handing over indicted Gen. Bosco Ntaganda – the Terminator – to the ICC in March 2013. The facilitation of the transfer of Gen Ntaganda to the ICC is an illustration that the ICC may apply the same approach to African countries even though they leave the ICC.

Irrespective of Rwanda’s sentiment towards the ICC, Rwandans along with Congolese, on August 17, 2012, filed a case against President Kagame with ICC for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territories of Rwanda and DRC respectively. It is not clear how the ICC intend to go about indicting the President Kagame if the ICC’s jurisdiction does not bind Rwanda.
To many Africans, there is a deep, sharp pain in the pit of their stomachs because African countries are leaving the ICC and there would be no justice for them. At the same time, many Africans view the ICC is a political and colonial institution which is used by the West to maintain the power of those who further imperialism and colonialism on African continent. The ICC has never called to account those African leaders who serve the West as well those leaders from the West that caused suffering to humanity around the world. The ICC is rather used to prosecute those leaders who are nationalists. Those are leaders who are against neo-colonisation.

Leaving the ICC has various implications. The act of leaving the ICC on the ground of prejudice, bias, unfairness and favouritism will not only tarnish the image of international justice system but would also lead to questioning the justice that might be dispensed by future ad hoc international tribunals. Like the ICC, the ICTR and ICTY are also political institutions that were initiated, established and funded largely by the USA through the channel of United Nations in order to maintain leadership of its puppets in the Great Lakes region and Balkan region respectively.
The invocation of international justice to maintain colonialism would have implications on the good governance whereby totalitarianism will be given credence.  The collapse of international justice would reduce the world to state of anarchy if all leaders become untouchable. The African capacity to establish its effective justice is questionable if the African Union (AU) is funded by the colonial masters but not Africans themselves. Africans should live up to the challenge of liberating themselves from neo-colonialism through establishing effective and democratic institutions funded by their own people. Should African countries continue to depend on the help and assistance provided by the West for their own social, economic, military, and technological developments, Africans will not escape the international justice system. African countries will find themselves wearing the Rwanda’s shoes whereby they will find themselves transferring or handing over those indicted by the ICC because they are not prepared to face economic sanctions that might be imposed to them by the West in case they might not comply with the ICC orders.  Poor people lack individual autonomy; hence their decisions are influenced by those who support them financially.

Callixte Kavuro

Legal expert and political analyst

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  1. kwihangana says:

    It is better to bring Bill Clinton to justice and Paul kagame to explain their involvement in a chaos and pain they caused to the Congolese,burundi rwandese
    and great Lakes region as well as other african nations.They should be punished and face consequences of they crimes and selfishness.Almight God The creator of universe bless Africans and the rest of the world.

  2. Nd. Luiz says:

    nemera ko ibibazo byacu abanyafurika tugomba kubishakira ibisubizo. bityo nta mpamvu yo guciribwa Imana n’abera. ariko kdi rero benewacu baramutse bigenze bazageraho bakadukorera ibyo bifuza byose kuko nta ngaruka baba batinya zabyo. ICC bayibera abanyamuryango cg batayibamo bashinge urukiko rwafasha umugabane kubahiriza agateka ka zinamuntu, naho ubundi bizadogera.

  3. Kelvin Bazira. says:

    Neo-Colonised based on killing africans people, to eliminate Bantou populations in great Lakes region. What this means? Is it ICC systematic? Is it superpower-mpatsibihugu? I do no get it?
    Weak up people, weak up africans people before white people destroy you, eliminate you in earth and takeover your land.
    White people hired Paul Kagame to destroy African populations and to still all africa values to superpower, Our continent will suffer too long from doing such this.

  4. Akimana says:

    Biragaragara ko uri umunyabwenge, mujye mukomeza mutugezeho ubumenyi nk’ubu muvandimwe

  5. Kayonde says:

    Dear Callixte Kavuro,
    Thank you so much for this wonderful article. I learnt so much from it
    Take time and give us more skills on our continent big brother
    I salute you

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