Assessing the motives, actions and consequences of those whose authority previously went unquestioned, and pushing back if necessary, are signs of evolving maturity and assuredness.
In these regards Africa is faring nicely. A few months ago it was South Africa that held its ground against the perceived quality of cheap meat US exports. In particular, the South African government argued that shipments that would not pass the hygiene standards for US domestic consumption, were being dumped on its markets. A negotiated settlement was eventually reached.
African annoyance with the Hague-based International Criminal Court, which is supposed to be the ultimate global arbiter for gross violations of human rights, has been building for many years. This is largely because the ICC’s gaze seems to have been almost completely focussed on the continent. This leads to it being dubbed by the Gambian leader as the ‘International Caucasian Court’.
This frustration has led to South Africa, Burundi and Gambia recently announcing that they intend to reject the ICC’s jurisdiction. The news comes alongside reports that many of their neighbours, including Kenya and Namibia, are set to join them.
Of course, this has resulted in a chorus of Western boos, hisses and claims that African leaders simply want a licence to sanction and commit horrific crimes with impunity.
However, the critics are typically mute when faced with the documented examples of abuses during the “War on Terror” which the ICC has failed to spot or deem worthy of investigation. No wonder Africa’s handing back the ball.
Global Connect Jonathan Thomas