The ICC, Al-Bashir, and Neocolonialism

So it has been a week since the International Criminal Court’s indictment of Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir for ‘war crimes’ and ‘crimes against humanity’ committed in Darfur. The dust has settled. And everyone who had something to say has pretty much said it. But I wondered: what did this indictment really accomplish? Two opinions have dominated the answer to that question as far as I can tell. One group, the U.S./EU/Human Rights Watch/Amnesty International crowd, believes that this indictment says to “third world dictators and autocrats that they will be held to account” for their misdeeds, while the other group, African Union/Arab League member-states among others, is skeptical at best for they believe this half-baked (let’s call it what it is, ladies and gentlemen) arrest warrant based on shoddy evidence will not only make finding justice for the victims of Darfur impossible, but derail the whole peace process that has significantly reduced violence in Darfur over the past 3 years and opened a new chapter of calm in Southern Sudan. Both are now in serious jeopardy.

More importantly, as Flint and de Waal argue in this peace, the indictment has just made the lives of those people {the Darfuris} it purports to give justice more difficult – the expulsion of 13 NGOs from Sudan being just the beginning. Besides lacking an enforcement mechanism, the ICC and its supporters conveniently overlook atrocities and mass murders committed elsewhere in the world, like Palestine and Iraq, for example. Why is that? Should we not question the over zealousness or even the intentions demonstrated by the ICC and its supporters in their pursuit of Al-Bashir while not doing the same for Bush, Blair, and Olmert crimes? Or does justice only apply to places that the West’s interests are impeded, as is the case in Sudan? Before one dismisses these points, a further point has to be considered: neocolonialism. That’s right. The boogey-man of international politics. The Sudanese government’s first response to the ICC’s arrest warrant for Mr. Bashir, was “The court {ICC} is only one mechanism of neocolonialist policy used by the West against free and independent countries.” Of course, people who have been pushing for this warrant promptly dismissed this accusation because after all the West has no interest (hint: oil) in Sudan but should we believe that? My answer to that is no. To paraphrase a friend, the ICC, rather than being a tool for justice, has become the tool which certain powerful states use against individuals and countries that do not submit to those states.

Neocolonialism is the engine of Western capitalism and prosperity, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. So when I see a selective indictment being made against heads of states who do not cooperate with Western governments and corporations, I do take the neocolonialism charge serious. Indeed, I do not  support Al-Bashir or the likes of him, but I do believe peace comes before justice. Even more dangerous are the calls of military air-strikes on Sudan found on the pages of Western newspapers like the New York Times. No wonder Al-Bashir is now more popular in Sudan than ever before. No wonder the accusations of Western neocolonialism are finally getting serious attentions.

Perhaps this post may come across to some people as too naive or indifferent to the sufferings of Darfuris. I’m not naive or indifferent to what has happened in Darfur. I actually know and have worked with a Darfuri refugee. What I am indifferent to, however, is the selective prosecution that the ICC and its supporters have adopted. That is not justice nor does that seek to foster global peace, especially when millions of people’s lives are risked in the pursuit of a narrow “justice.”

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Categories: East Africa | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “The ICC, Al-Bashir, and Neocolonialism

  1. This is not so much about the people of Darfur as it is about certain US/EU powers and their natural resources interest in the region. I am all for bringing Bashir and his ilk to justice. Immediately. And he should be in good company with Bush, Blair, Livni, etc. We are talking about death and destruction of innocent civilians against international laws, aren’t we?

    • Om

      Yes, Aya. Millions of people’s lives. I hope things don’t get any worse for the people of Darfur because some people feel the need to show off their superior international laws and economic interests. I think a Mark Twain quote says a lot about this: “There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man’s notion that he is less savage than the other savages.”

  2. cigaal

    someone ought to be locked up for the somalis’ suffering: zenawi, museveni, the UN, warlords, etc too.

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