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.
- 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.