Former UN general, Kofi Annan has said that an apparent African exodus from the International Criminal Court (ICC) must be stopped or the most heinous crimes will go unpunished according to a report by the Guardian.
“Most of the continent’s democratic governments stand by the ICC. I stand by the ICC, because the most heinous crimes must not go unpunished.” Said Annan writing for the Guardian
Koffi Annan who is one of the founders of the ICC warns that Burundi, Gambia and South Africa’s withdrawal from the court risks giving a false impression that the entire continent is hostile to the court. Annan was UN secretary general when the UN hosted the inaugural conference in Rome in 1998.
The three countries have claimed that the international court has unfairly targeted African leaders.
Africa “was [the court’s] most enthusiastic supporter” at the ICC’s inception. “Memories of the horrors of the Rwandan genocide were still fresh in our minds. In fact, the first signatory of the treaty was an African country, Senegal. Africa remains the single largest regional bloc, with 34 states party to the Rome statute out of 124,” Annan wrote
Annan defends the ICC’s work in Africa, writing that it is Africa that referred most cases to the court “Of the nine investigations on the African continent, eight were requested by African states. Six African states referred their own situation to the ICC, and African states voted in support of the UN Security Council referrals on Darfur and Libya,”
He further notes that “Kenya was the only case in Africa opened independently by the court, but it enjoyed the enthusiastic support of a majority of Kenyans. They wanted justice for the 1,300 people killed and hundreds of thousands displaced in election-related violence.”
ICC remains the continent’s most credible court of last resort for the most serious crimes, says Annan, the court first criminal tribunals were set up in Nuremberg and Tokyo after the Second World War. After the cold war, more international or mixed tribunals were launched for crimes in Lebanon, Cambodia and Yugoslavia. The ICC has opened investigations in Georgia and is conducting preliminary examinations in Afghanistan, Columbia, Ukraine, Iraq and Palestine according to the Guardian.