Africa Must Not Dismantle the International Criminal Court

African leaders seeking to dismantle the International Criminal Court are "looking for a license to kill, maim and oppress their own people without consequence," Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu writes in a poignant piece at the New York Times. 

Desmond Tutu (Rodger Bosch/AFP/Getty Images)

In a poignant piece at the New York Times, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu examines the reasons behind a push by some African leaders to dismantle the International Criminal Court. He says they are "looking for a license to kill, maim and oppress their own people without consequence."

Members of the African Union will meet in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, today [Oct. 10] to discuss recent calls by some African leaders to withdraw from the International Criminal Court. These calls must be resisted. The continent has suffered the consequences of unaccountable governance for too long to disown the protections offered by the I.C.C. 

Those leaders seeking to skirt the court are effectively looking for a license to kill, maim and oppress their own people without consequence. They believe the interests of the people should not stand in the way of their ambitions of wealth and power; that being held to account by the I.C.C. interferes with their ability to achieve these ambitions; and that those who get in their way -- the victims: their own people -- should remain faceless and voiceless.

Most of all, they believe that neither the golden rule, nor the rule of law, applies to them.

But they know that they cannot say these things in public without repercussions. Instead, they conveniently accuse the I.C.C. of racism.

At first glance, the claim might seem plausible. The I.C.C., founded in 2002 and based in The Hague, has so far considered only cases against Africans. But this is partly because independent tribunals that were established to handle cases concerning the former Yugoslavia, Cambodia and other countries have naturally led to a reduction in the scope of the court’s activities.

Read Desmond Tutu's entire piece at the New York Times.

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