Heads of State and Government engaging in peer protectionism policy
At the July 2009 African Union (AU) Assembly of Heads of States and Government summit in Sirte, Libya, the late former Libyan President Muammar al-Gaddafi rallied his counterparts to sign onto what became known as the â€œSirte decisionâ€, in which AU states resolved not to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC).
As a matter of international law, the Sirte decision remains hollow. Just like the May 26, 2013 resolution both decisions including any such resolution flowing from United Nations Security Council has no effect on Court proceedings at The Hague.
For any case to be withdrawn from the ICC specific conditions must be met and the judges of Court be fully satisfied. Even after the Court grants such withdrawal, if the proceedings against the accused persons are turned into trial shows (whitewash) the Court will recall the cases automatically.
Contrary to political hallucinations, the Kenya justice system is far from reaching competency and capability to prosecute international crimes as those before the ICC. The system has not even been able to prosecute the middle and lower perpetrators.
The engagement between the ICC and the AU often overshadows one fundamental fact: that the continent is home to landmark efforts to address impunity. Several African states have been at the forefront in dealing with impunity.
However, while we can cite many good examples, we cannot continue to defend states who fail to protect citizens. Instead, the AU must work more effectively to enforce accountability; it should translate its declarations on the fight against impunity into concrete actions that result in the protection of Africaâ€™s citizens.
The Courtâ€™s strongest supporters are in Africa for good reason: they lack confidence in domestic institutions to deliver justice. This fact must never be lost in the heat of the debate about the ICCâ€™s role in Africa.
Despite some tensions and differences in approach between the AU and the ICC, they do not hold competing views on dealing with impunity. Indeed, the AUâ€™s Constitutive Act remains a vital document that binds its AU member states to the need to deal with mass violations of human rights similar to the ICC.
Finally, African states have not taken unified action regarding Rome Statute and ICC. Each country seeks to address its concerns as a State Party to the Rome Statute. This is the correct process and procedure.