This post was first published on connectedafrica.com
“Freedom is an endless horizon, and there are many roads that lead to it.” Shirley Chisholm understood that freedom was not a destination, but an infinite journey. The 1960’s came with the end of colonialism for most African countries, but decades later, are we really free? We are still beholden to Eurocentric standards of acceptability; the hegemonic idea of First World versus Third World Countries still persists; the International Criminal Court is used as a cudgel against African leaders while the war crimes of the West go ignored.
I would be remiss to not acknowledge that totalitarian and oppressive regimes cannot be ignored. However, there is a double standard. The ICC were prepared to arrest a sitting Head of State, Sudan president Omar al-Bashir when he was in the Republic of South Africa, yet the amorphously fought Iraqi War’s progenitors have never been indicted.
The Prosecutor of the ICC reported as early as February 2006 that he had received 240 communications in connection with the 2003 Iraqi invasion, which alleged that a plethora of war crimes had been committed. The overwhelming majority of these communications came from individuals and groups within the United States and the United Kingdom. Many of these complaints concerned the British participation in the invasion, as well as the alleged responsibility for “torture” or enhanced interrogation deaths while in detention in British-controlled areas. Granted, the United States is not a member of the ICC but the United Kingdom is.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair could very well be indicted given the invasion was against the United Nations. Surely this would give the ICC legitimacy and credence in the eyes of the rest of the world. As per Article 127 of the Rome Statute, South Africa and Burundi left the ICC this October. 90% of the states that the ICC has investigated are African countries. In 2009, there was en masse departure from the ICC by Senegal, Djibouti and Comoros; Kenya followed suit in 2013. Gambia has expressed intent to withdraw from the court.
Freedom cannot be attained in this commodity-driven world without financial emancipation. We need to abrogate the prevalent poverty on our beautiful continent.