By Karen Williams
Last year, South African politicians defended Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir fleeing an International Criminal Court arrest warrant, saying the ICC is a bully and targets Africa. However, this is far from the truth.
The International Criminal Court grew out of the international justice movement that flourished after the ending of apartheid in South Africa and the fall of dictatorships in South America.
South Africa joined the ICC soon after its inception in 1998, and the country was one of the early supporters for setting up the court. In this, it was joined by other developing countries that wanted an international mechanism to try the gravest of human rights abuses. By 1 April 2015 a total 123 countries had joined ICC.
The court remains one of the few avenues of justice for the citizens of a number of countries. Shortly after Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir fled his ICC arrest warrant in South Africa on 15 June, the Palestinian Authority handed over documentation to the court’s prosecutor, detailing alleged Israeli crimes in the occupied West Bank and during the war on Gaza in 2014.The Palestinians have fought hard to join the ICC and, with the stance it has taken on the al-Bashir issue, South Africa has found itself adopting a position similar to Israel’s, which says that it will refuse to cooperate with the ICC.
No mechanism of enforcement
The al-Bashir case did not showcase the bullying tactics nor the strength of the ICC, as some of the court’s critics maintain. In fact, it revealed one of the more significant weaknesses of the ICC – that it has no mechanism of enforcement.
This article first appeared on africacheck.org: Read more on: the international criminal court is a bully and other popular myths