What Is the Position of the AU on the ICC?
This morning I learned from the Sudan Tribune that the African Union has agreed to establish a liaison office for the African Union in Addis Ababa. But I also read on the newswires that the selfsame Chairman of the AU Jean Ping has condemned the ICC decision to indict President Omar al-Bashir for 3 counts of genocide. Can you help me to understand the AU position on the ICC?
Admin adds: The two AU statements are available here:
On the Chairperson’s “readiness to explore the possibility of establishing an ICC Liaison Office in Addis Ababa”: Presse CommuniqueICC Bilateral 16-07-10
On the AU’s concern over the genocide decision: communique concern over decision ICC Eng
Dear Khalid, I hope your question is answered by the two communiques issued by the African Union, which we have linked to above. You will see that the Sudan Tribune report is incomplete and the AU is not actually implying either that the ICC is about to open an office, or that it is in full agreement with the ICC decisions. Alex
I believe the position of the AU is clear, and there is nothing wrong with considering opening a Liaison Office for the ICC in Addis Ababa, in fact the issue here is not the ICC as an institution nor its mandate, many African countries have participated in the meetings about the Rome Statutes.
The problem seems to me to have resulted from the way the ICC is being used or abused, to serve an agenda other than what it was instituted for. It seems that the ICC is being hijacked by its Prosecutor General in his search for stardom. I have heard that the Prosecutor General of the ICC, mobilizes the NGOs community to attend every meeting of the Security Council he addresses, when he presents his periodic reports, and holds public meetings with members of the Dar Fur movements in New York to enlighten them about his efforts to bring them justice. I can hardly think of a Prosecutor General who goes around talking about a case he is trying in the manner of this Prosecutor General. This is the same Prosecutor General who believes that he is not obliged to avail the defence, in the case of Lubanga, of the evidence he has, as happened recently in the ICC. Nor have I heard of a Prosecutor General who receives one of the parties to a conflict in his Office as victim of Genocide perpetrated by the other party. A man of theatrics par excellence. And no-one has done Sudan, so much damage as this Prosecutor General.
The timing of the latest decision of the ICC, which literally adds nothing to any penalties that General Bashir may face, should he go to Court and the charges against him be proved, even without the last three of Genocide.
The last three charges coming at this critical time in the history of the Sudan, raise more questions than answers. How can three reasonable justices of one of the highest courts in the world, simply ignore the political implications of their decisions? And how can they simply ignore reports of two committees that investigated the Dar Fur situation and concluded that crimes have being committed but no genocide. I am sorry, if this offends some, but let me state it bluntly, the Judges as well as the Prosecutor General seem to think that they are the only honest people in the world to-day, and if the they think the members of the AU Commission are not honest because they are Africans, why would they suspect Antonio Cassese?
This is no more an issue of law, nor is it a search for justice.
It is important to remember that the cohesive position of the AU may not be quite as uniform as official communiques or declarations would seem to suggest. Amongst AU member states there appears to be significant disagreement. A high-level panel headed by Thabo Mbeki came out with a position that implicitly supported the criminal action against al-Bashir. Further, some officials at the ICC have suggested that a number of African and Arab states agreed that justice should be pursued against al-Bashir but that they could not declare so publicly or officially. This suggests the existence of powerful political pressures competing with convictions for state officials in denouncing the indictment rather than declaring support for an independent institution pursuing justice. It’s telling to note that al-Bashir has not been able to visit any African Union state which is also a member of the ICC. Indeed, South African President Jacob Zuma recently noted that should al-Bashir visit, he would be arrested.
Dear Khalid, David and Mark too,
It seems that Chadâ€™s president Idriss Deby has already answered yesterday Markâ€™s assertion that Sudanâ€™s president al Bashir was not been able to visit any African country that is a signatory of the Rome Statute under which the ICC was set up despite the bluster of the usual suspects such as the HRW.
Apparently Deby must have come to the conclusion that Chadâ€™s and his own interests are better served by good neighbourly relations with Sudan and its president, from where he received support in the past, rather than continuing with confrontation, and which hopefully will lead to a lasting solution of Chadâ€™s and Sudanâ€™s shared problems in eastern Chad and Darfur.
No doubt it is slap in the face of Luis Moreno-Ocampo who as recently as 15 July following Bastille Day met Deby and Senegalese president Wade in Paris for discussions that one can presume would have included the prosecution of former Chadian president Hissene Habre now living in exile in Senegal.
It is also no doubt a sign that the AU and its member states, including the Rome Statute signatories are getting increasingly nervous about the way the ICC has developed under the direction of its chief prosecutor, despite that some countries for reasons best known to themselves initially invited Ocampo to get involved in their own domestic problems (see my recent contribution on the blog on the same subject), and despite the pressure of the â€˜International Communityâ€™, short hand for the US (which is not a signatory and does not extradite its citizens but demands the extradition and rendition of anybody else), the UK and EU, and its activist cheerleaders such as HRW to exert them to remain â€˜signed onâ€™.
But what else can one expect from an organisation whose spokesman at a meeting not too long ago in London, Chatham House rules prevail, declared that it choose cynically in its campaign to get Habre prosecuted for alleged crimes in Chad to compare Habre deliberately to Pinochet, the Francoist dictator of Chile because the HRW spokesman admitted that the English speaking western media was by and large ignorant of Habre and Chad but was very familiar with Pinochet following his arrest in the UK in 1998 for crimes against humanity.
Whatever crimes Habre may or may not have committed, the only reason for HRW to dub him â€˜Africaâ€™s Pinochetâ€™ seems to be based on the Reagan Administrationâ€™s support to Habre during his war of liberation against Gaddafiâ€™s Libyaâ€™s occupation of northern Chad, but as such this kind of mud sticks with even a critic of Western â€˜Advocacyâ€™ such as Mahmood Mamdani adopting HRWâ€™s lazy and unhistorical sloganeering to dismiss Habre in ‘Saviors and Survivors.’
Equally HRW appeared to want to disregard, at least until 21 July when Deby welcomed al Bashir in Nâ€™djamena, that it was Deby who toppled Habre in 1990 after having been previously Habreâ€™s close associate and whose own human rights record since has led to protests against Debyâ€™s presence at the 14th of July celebrations. But the HRW spokesman only could offer the suggestion that Habre should not be tried in Chad because he could not expect a fair and safe trial, and he added neither should Mengistu to Zenawiâ€™s Ethiopia, whenever, and one should add neither Hutu suspects to Kagameâ€™s Rwanda.
This in turn should beg the question of â€˜justice being seen doneâ€™, meaning as much that the victims of alleged crimes should be able to see that a person found guilty is punished as much as a person not found guilty should be seen to be acquitted where this person was alleged to have committed these alleged crimes.
To establish the ICC as an impartial dispenser of international justice would have been difficult enough in the manner the ICC had been set up under the Rome Statute, but Ocampoâ€™s continuing tenure of the chief prosecutorâ€™s office, as described by David, arbitrarily selecting and managing cases, refusing to accept that he is wrong when ICC judges find against him but instead continuing to bully them to give what â€˜Ocamboâ€™ wants, has turned the ICC into the judicial monster we know now , incapable of dispensing impartial justice and one would suspect that it would have been abolished already by the same â€˜International Communityâ€™ if the ICC was not limiting its scope to Africa.