Thakur on the ICC, Darfur, and Bashir

When I blogged about the ICC’s missteps on Darfur yesterday I had not yet seen this excellently argued recent article by Ramesh Thakur.
Thakur, who for a long time was Vice-rector of the U.N. University, based in Tokyo, argued centrally there that:

    a more troubling issue is how an initiative of international criminal justice meant to protect vulnerable people from brutal national rulers has managed to be subverted into an instrument of power against vulnerable countries. A court meant to embody and pursue universal justice is in practice reduced to imposing selective justice of the West against the rest.

He writes,

    no senior U.S. general or Cabinet member is likely to face international criminal prosecution for Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo or other abuses.
    Does the world not deserve an honest accounting of what happened in Fallujah in April 2004, how many were killed, and whether any criminality was involved, including the use of chemical weapons prohibited under international humanitarian law?
    Nuremberg was supposedly about who started the war, not who lost. Same for the Tokyo tribunal. We know who started the Iraq War; and we know they have not been called to account for the crime.
    Africans are being held to international accountability for domestic acts of war crimes, but Westerners seem to escape international judgment. What of the war-crime charges by Hamas and some Israelis in Gaza earlier this year?
    Unlike Bashir or any other Africans in the dock, whose alleged atrocities were limited to national jurisdictions, the Bush administration asserted and exercised the right to kidnap suspected enemies in the war on terror anywhere in the world and take them anywhere else, including countries known to torture suspects. Many Western allies colluded in this distasteful practice of “rendition.” No Westerner has faced criminal trial for it.

And he argues, as I did in my blog post yesterday, that the ICC should be mothballed until it can become a more robust instrument of a much more equitable international system.

6 thoughts on “Thakur on the ICC, Darfur, and Bashir”

  1. Good for Ramesh Thakur.
    Iraq: 1.3 million dead, 4.5 million displaced including 2 million forced emigrees — 70% women and children, with many of the women forced into prostitution to feed their families, tens of thousands injured and imprisoned, ongoing poverty, health and security problems, all done because of (at various times) __ WMD __ 9/11 ___ etc.
    Afghanistan: No reliable figures, but Obama’s escalation is killing more Afghans and also Pakistanis. __ 9/11
    Both of these show no sign of ending. There is also Israel’s aggression in Lebanon and Gaza.
    The actual reasons for these wars are to extend US/Israel hegemony in the Middle East and South Asia, in violation of the United Nations Charter, a law of the land. But the UN Security Council, whose current highly-paid Secretary-General is a weak US lackey, is silent about these illegal aggressions with their widespread death and destruction.
    Also praise for Hugo Chavez.
    March 31 (Bloomberg) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez criticized the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for Sudanese President Umar-al Bashir and said former U.S. President George W. Bush should be jailed instead.

  2. Don,
    Somehow I doubt that Israel’s interests are entangled in advocating for war with or in Pakistan or Afghanistan. As for Iraq, that one was hardly Israel’s plan and Israel has not benefited from it, so far as I can discern.
    More to the point of Helena’s article, it is worth noting, as The Washington Post has today, that Bashir was embraced by all Arab leaders including the leader of the Palestinian Arabs, Mr. Abbas. I might note that Bashir was also supported – but not at the noted conference – by Hamas. Whether, as Helena believes, war crimes allegations are worth pursuing or not, the fact is that the assertion that Arabs support human rights has been shown to have no basis in fact. In fact, such has been shown to be pure hypocrisy. As opined by the Post:

    “We stress our solidarity with Sudan and our rejection of the decision” of the ICC, said the communique, which Mr. Bashir welcomed in a bombastic address to the summit plenary. Leader after leader declared fealty. “We must also take a decisive stance of solidarity alongside fraternal Sudan and President Omar al-Bashir,” said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Mr. Abbas is hoping that the Obama administration will pressure Israel to stop building “illegal” settlements in the West Bank; the next time he utters the phrase “double standard” in the presence of a U.S. diplomat, we suggest a query about Mr. Bashir.

    That says it all. Hypocrites!!!

  3. Of course the ICC is a political too. It became one when the Security Council was given a role in its structure. From that point it became inevitable that it would be used politically. However, it’s ironic that many of those now complaining about how the ICC is being used are arguing that it should be used politically against officials in the US, British, Israeli, etc. governments.
    These officials may or may not be guilty of war crimes (though personally I think a court would find it difficult to prove this beyond reasonable doubt in many case). But demanding that the ICC do something about it misses the point. There are already institutions that can deal with these alleged offences: national courts. Already some people have been held to account for their actions in Abu Ghraib and for other crimes committed in Iraq.
    Moreover, surely a national court has much more legitimacy than an international court anyway? It is much closer to the people involved. It derives authority much more readily from the consent of the people. And it is much more likely to be composed of a jury of people’s peers. International justice is not a panacea; there are many questions about its legitimacy, even in a perfect world. If US, British, Israeli, or even Sudanese, officials are guilty of crimes, much better for their national courts to try them.

  4. Helena,
    You write:

    Bringing forward the WaPo as the ultimate arbiter on rights questions is hilariously funny.

    Whether or not the “ultimate arbiter,” is the point made in what I quoted wrong? Given the manner of your response – an ad hominem, not a substantive, response -, somehow I think you agree with The Washington Post‘s opinion more than you are willing to admit.

  5. N Friedman, if you’re going to judge countries and politicians by their friends you’ll quickly find out that few if any come out looking very good. Israel had some extremely unsavory connections in Central America during the 80’s, for instance, and they were pals with apartheid South Africa. And it is funny listening to the Washington insiders at the Post lecturing others on moral consistency. When was the US ever pure on this subject? My solution to this–make it a global law that heads of state must be sincere card-carrying members of Amnesty International. Until that time comes, I think we’re stuck with the rogues and hypocrites we have now.
    With that in mind, the fact that Palestinian leaders may hobnob with unsavory characters elsewhere in no way invalidates their legitimate complaints about Israeli human rights violations.

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