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Amnesty International Should Rethink Its ICC Love

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By Shawn Macomber

The 2014/2015 Amnesty International Report declares “a roadmap towards silencing all guns in Africa must be embraced and driven forwards.”

This, Amnesty naturally and sincerely believes, will require “a far more robust, consistent and coherent approach” — all well and good so far as it goes…right up until the storied institution cites the persistently inconsistent, utterly incoherent International Criminal Court as one of its preferred primary arbiters of justice:

Another essential prerequisite for peace, security and justice is for African states to withdraw their collective attack on international justice — including the work of the ICC — and instead stand firm on confronting impunity, both regionally and internationally, and work towards effective accountability for gross human rights violations and other crimes under international law.

Alas, in Africa the ICC has created circumstances under which true justice is considerably less likely, for it is on that continent that the politicized, arbitrary, rent-seeking nature of the Court has become so painfully clear. As we noted in this space back when British lawyers dubbed the failed ICC attempted prosecution of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta “very, very amateur,” the ICC — like many aspiring transnational behemoths — is fixated on generating conspiracy theories and expanding its own powers. Principally this is done by picking on Africans. Why? Sure, because wars in Africa are ugly — but then they’re ugly everywhere. The real reason is because African nations don’t have powerful friends to stop the ICC’s meddling.

And meddle in Africa it must. Otherwise it would be tough to explain why it turns a blind eye to injustices that occur elsewhere in the world under the auspices of the Court’s benefactors. (See: Afghanistan.)

Few have framed this schism with as much brutal starkness as Brendan O’Neill did in a Telegraph piece a few years back entitled, “The International Criminal Court is, by any objective measure, racist. So why do liberals love it?”

Here is the opening paragraph:

Imagine if there were a criminal court in Britain which only ever tried black people, which ignored crimes committed by whites and Asians and only took an interest in crimes committed by blacks. We would consider that racist, right? And yet there is an International Criminal Court which only ever tries black people, African black people to be precise, and it is treated as perfectly normal.

Is this the wrong moment to cue the John Lennon?

In fact the court is lauded by many radical activists as a good and decent institution, despite the fact that no non-black person has ever been brought before it to answer for his crimes. It is remarkable that in an era when liberal observers see racism everywhere, in every thoughtless aside or crude joke, they fail to see it in an institution which focuses exclusively on the criminal antics of dark-skinned people from the “Dark Continent”.

Is this really the basket Amnesty International wants to place all its international justice eggs in?