Why Africa Should not Pull out of The International Criminal Court

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has made unfounded calls for The African Union to boycott The International Criminal Court.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is accused of orchestrating large-scale violence after the 2007 Kenyan election.Simon Maina/AFP/Getty Images

President Kenyatta is accused of orchestrating large-scale violence after the 2007 Kenyan election. Simon Maina/AFP/Getty Images

The world needs more accountability, not less. Countries that sign the ICC treaty show their accountability to their citizens and heads of state and all holders of power in the long run need to show accountability.

Mr Kenyatta’s claim is that the ICC targets members of the African Union unfairly but fails to highlight that so far, each of the court’s eight indictments have come against Africans, although African governments initiated five of those cases and two more came from the United Nations Security Council with full support from its African members. The indictments relating to post-2007 election violence in Kenya were the first instances of the ICC proactively targeting an African leader (Al-Jazeera).

The following Backgrounder explains the role of the International Criminal Court, its history and relations with countries around the world.

ICC Backgrounder – Answers a range of important questions often asked about The International Criminal Court, its role and relations with nations around the world.

In essence there is a conflict of interest created from the fact that Mr Kenyatta faces charges for crimes against humanity and at the same time he is calling for a boycott of the very instrument moving to try him for any misdeeds. Mr Kenyatta would be better placed if he showed his transparency and answered the charges. If its Africa calls for an exodus from the ICC, Africa’s citizens would be left vulnerable to violations to their rights with nobody to hold leaders to account. Furthermore an International Criminal Court is essential for the democratisation process of international institutions such as The United Nations and similar global organisations.

Africans must not so soon forget the horrors experienced by innocent citizens across the continent in the hands of their own leaders. With nobody to hold national leaders to account, such acts would perpetuate.  Social rights activist Desmond Tutu has delivered an insightful comments. He says they are “looking for a license to kill, maim and oppress their own people without consequence.” Caution required!


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