Happy Birthday Madiba

Posted on July 18, 2011. Filed under: Events, ICC, Justice |

Kate Lefko-Everett

Today is the birthday of South Africa’s beloved first democratic president, anti-apartheid struggle leader, and in many ways the ‘Father of the Nation’ – we wish you happy birthday Tata Madiba!

In South African and around the world, everyone is encouraged to take 67 minutes out of your day to do something for the greater good! Need some ideas? Have a look at the Mandela Day website, or check in with your preferred local school, public library, NGO, etc. For Cape Townians, the hard-working Equal Education – which is campaigning for libraries in all South African schools – invites volunteers to help cover books at the Bookery in Roeland Street.

Go on. Surrender your soapies today. Abandon the treadmill. Have a working lunch. Then – hopefully – don’t stop with today!

Another cause for celebration and reflection is the commemoration of International Criminal Justice Day yesterday, on 17 July. The International Criminal Court has posted a series of videos online – I am adding a statement by ICC Judge President Sang-Hyun Song below, and more can be viewed here.

What about combining efforts around these two events? If you live in a country that is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, today could be the day to start an advocacy campaign that contributes to international justice? Post more ideas here!

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ICC Press Conference on Issuing of Libya warrants

Posted on June 28, 2011. Filed under: ICC |

This afternoon, International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo held a press conference and briefing on the arrest warrants issued yesterday for Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Gaddafi, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi. I have added the YouTube clip of the briefing below.

The issuing of the warrants has been met with disappointment by the South African government, however. According to presidential spokesman Zizi Kodwa in a report in the Pretoria News, “President Zuma is extremely disappointed and concerned over the issuing of a warrant by the International Criminal Court against Colonel Gaddafi.” The African Union’s high-level ad hoc committee on Libya met in Pretoria last weekend, and Kodwa commented that this had resulted in “commitment now from both the Libyan authority led by Colonel Gaddafi and the Transitional National Council.” (Full article in the Pretoria News)

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News from the International Courts

Posted on June 27, 2011. Filed under: ICC, Rwanda |

Just moments ago, the international news feeds picked up the announcement that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued three warrants of arrest, “respectively for Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Gaddafi, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi for crimes against humanity (murder and persecution) allegedly committed across Libya from 15 February 2011 until at least 28 February 2011, through the State apparatus and Security Forces.” (full details here) I have just noted that the ICC also is on Twitter @IntlCrimCourt, if you are interested in up-to-date information as it is released.

Also, last week the United Nations announced that the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has found Pauline Nyiramasuhuko guilty of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, crimes against humanity (extermination, rape and persecution) and several serious violations of the Geneva conventions. According to the report, Nyiramasuhuko is the first woman ever charged with genocide by an international court, and has been “sentenced to life in prison by the United Nations war crimes tribunal set up in the wake of the mass killings in Rwanda in 1994.” (full report here)

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IJR’s Tim Murithi on Gaddafi’s referral to the ICC

Posted on March 18, 2011. Filed under: ICC |

This article originally appeared on AllAfrica.com.


Tim Murithi

The referral by the United Nations (UN) Security Council of Muammar Gaddafi and his regime to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for possible crimes committed in suppressing the ongoing uprising is perplexing.

The UN Security Council’s actions are akin to threatening a serial killer with arrest in the middle of one of his deranged killing sprees. Once the serial killer calculates that he has already committed atrocities that will subject him to ‘jail time’, what is to prevent him from continuing with his murderous activity?

The UN Security Council also imposed an arms embargo, which is ineffectual since Gaddafi already has all the armaments that he needs; a travel ban which will have minimal impact because the regime has to consolidate its position in the country; and an asset freeze, which will be difficult to implement because of the extensive global resources at the disposal of the regime. In effect, the UN resorted to economic sanctions rather than the more robust enforcement measures which are more likely to lay the foundation for the liberation of Libya.

The UN Security Council chose this route in order to be seen to be doing something. Given the economic and oil interests of key Security Council members, including the permanent five who have a veto over decisions, the sanctions and ICC referral was considered as a compromise option.

African countries were effectively caught flat-footed by the Security Council (despite the presence of key players on the Council like South Africa and Nigeria). African countries and their continental organisation the African Union (AU) have demonstrated a lack of appetite for confronting Gaddafi. The AU is not prepared to do anything more concrete than issue statements and perhaps send an envoy. In the absence of any concrete action from the AU, the UN Security Council’s actions are the only act of ‘intervention’ from an international organisation. The African countries on the UN Security Council could not dissent with the referral to the ICC because they could not propose an alternative way of dealing with Gaddafi.

The only other UN Security Council referral, that of President Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan, for crimes committed in Darfur, has met with controversy and yielded few results. As a result of this referral the AU is in the middle of a stand-off with the ICC, and has decreased its cooperation with the court. The fact that African countries on the UN Security Council overlooked this current AU-ICC stand-off to support the resolution for a referral and sanctions raises a number of issues.

Unfortunately, it would appear that the UN Security Council is deploying the ICC to fight its own battles. A UN Chapter 7 resolution was necessary to deal with the Libyan situation given the clear breach of international peace and security, and a worsening humanitarian crisis along its frontiers. Specifically, Article 42 of the UN Charter enables the UN to ‘take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security’.

Article 43 further states that ‘all members of the United nations…undertake to make available to the Security Council…armed forces, assistance, and facilities, including rights of passage, necessary for the purpose of maintaining international peace and security’. The Council should have deployed an enforcement mission to intervene, but since Gaddafi has promised that foreign troops will come home in body bags, like Vietnam, no country on the UN Security Council was prepared to even contemplate such an option.

Interestingly enough there is a much clearer case for a UN enforcement mission on humanitarian grounds in Libya today, than there ever was in Iraq. Such is the duplicity of the current international system.

In the final analysis, if the UN Security Council is using the referral as a sleight of hand to decrease the pressure on it to fulfill its mandate, enshrined in the Charter, then it is not a good day for the ICC. Gaddafi will only appear in the Hague if he loses the ongoing battle and if he is over-run by the opposing armed militia. Obviously, the very same UN Security Council will not intervene to arrest him and take him to the Hague. But what if he does not loose and the gallant efforts of the uprising are brutally suppressed? Then the international community will once again have blood on its hands. Furthermore, the ICC will still not be able to arrest him.

The prosecutor of the ICC has no option but to undertake the necessary interventions. But at the end of the day it appears that the UN Security Council has cynically deflected its responsibility to the ICC, knowing full well that the only other option it would have to contemplate would have been a military intervention.

In the meantime the clamour for the Council to do something has died down temporarily. The ICC prosecutor has stepped into the fray. The battle for Libya continues and the poverty of the international system in promoting peace and security is yet again exposed.

Dr. Tim Murithi is Head of the Transitional Justice Programme at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation in Cape Town.

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