Desmond Tutu is Wrong: The AU Should Quit the International Criminal Court

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

The African Union is moving towards a break with the International Criminal Court, a tribunal that only indicts Africans who get on the wrong side of the United States. Desmond Tutu and others claim the ICC needs to be there, to defend “the victims.” But its brand of justice is highly selective. “The ICC is a tool of U.S. foreign policy, an instrument of neocolonialism.”

Desmond Tutu is Wrong: The AU Should Quit the International Criminal Court

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

He might just as well argue for the return of colonial rule, which established its own kind of law and order in Africa.”

The African Union is on a collision course with the International Criminal Court, a tribunal that has indicted only Africans since its founding in 2002. In an extraordinary meeting of the African Union at it headquarters in Addis Abbaba, Ethiopia, the AU took the position that no sitting head of state should be prosecuted by the ICC while still in office. In the immediate term, the AU calls for the postponement of the trial of Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, scheduled to begin in the The Hague, next month. Kenyatta and his deputy president are charged with crimes against humanity stemming from election violence in 2007. Last weekend, President Kenyatta told the African Union that the International Criminal Court “stopped being the home of justice the day it became the toy of declining imperial powers” – a clear reference to the United States and Britain.

And that is the heart of the matter. It is a travesty of justice that the ICC only indicts Africans, but even more importantly, the International Criminal Court also only indicts those politicians that get on the wrong side of the United States and the former colonial powers in Africa. The ICC is a tool of U.S. foreign policy, an instrument of neocolonialism.

Among the apologists for the ICC is South African former archbishop Desmond Tutu, who says African leaders are “effectively looking for a license to kill, maim and oppress their own people without consequence.” Tutu says it all boils down to a question of “who should represent the interests of the victims?” However, in the real world of imperial power, Desmond Tutu’s reasoning is specious, shallow. He might just as well argue for the return of colonial rule, which established its own kind of law and order in Africa. The question is, whose law and whose order? The ICC represents U.S. foreign policy masquerading as law.

The ICC is a cog in the imperial machinery.”

Tutu maintains that, without the deterrence of the ICC, African “countries could and would attack their neighbors, or minorities in their own countries, with impunity.” Well, that is, in fact, the case right now in Africa, and it has occurred with the complicity of the ICC, which has sanctioned and morally assisted mass murder and outright genocide by American allies on the continent.

And here lies the great irony. The very nations that most strongly oppose the ICC – Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia – have the blood of millions on their hands. Rwanda and Uganda are principally responsible for the death of six million Congolese over the past 17 years, an ongoing genocide armed and financed by the United States and Britain. The Ethiopian regime’s brutality toward its Somali and Omoro ethnic groups has also been described as genocidal. But, because the United States is also deeply complicit in these crimes, there is no threat of prosecution by the International Criminal Court. The court is only deployed against those countries and leaders targeted by the United States.

So, why are Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda worried? Clearly, they understand that, if the United States can give impunity, it can also take it away. They remember that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein used to be a U.S. ally, and that Libya’s Muammar Gadaffi and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad cooperated with the U.S. war on terror – until the U.S. turned against them. The worst purveyor of crimes against humanity in Africa and the world is U.S. imperialism. The ICC is a cog in the imperial machinery, which recognizes no law, but only its own interests. You can’t fight U.S. Empire and its crimes and, at the same time, defend the International Criminal Court. They are one and the same.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].




If Desmond Tutu's Wrong RE the ICC Then So Is Pambazuka News

Pambazuka News just posted 3 articles fully supporting ICC vs the AU's alleged support for African 'Dictators'- this week: '[the AU] Saving African dictators from the ICC', - 'AU, Kenya and the International Criminal Court: Beyond Impunity', - 'Civil society supports ICC ahead of special AU summit'...

The author of the article 'Saving African dictators from the ICC' slandered Robert Mugabe as a 'senile baffoon'- even though the actual premise of the article had little if anything to do w Mugabe or Zimbabwe. In fact the author's main premise is that if AU countries leave the ICC in mass over the ICC's indictment of Kenyan Pres Uhuru Kenyatta [FYI: he AIN'T a dictator- he's Kenya's constitutionally elected Pres- DUHH] & past ICC indictments targeting mainly African leaders, that would delegitimize the AU- which IMO would be the exact opposite of the actual effect of the AU leaving the ICC because it's effectively a tool of & gives a veneer of legal cover for white-supremacy & neo-colonialism [IE: AU leaving the ICC delegitimizes the ICC NOT vice-versa]- no matter what one thinks of the AU as an {in}effective body. In fact this is likely the real reason why they've gotten well known Africans like ex UN chief Kofi Annan [ironically his Syrian cease-fire plan was dissed by US & EU NATO nations -&- whom Bush Jr's regime went after w a vengeance when Annan called the US-UK led Iraq Attack illegal], Desmond Tutu, [the other] Mrs Mandela [IE: NOT Winnie], & Horace Cambell [see below], etc- to try to persuade the AU NOT to kick the ICC to the curb [or even ridicule the idea]. 

Horace Cambell's [who backed Obama's re-election while taking a {not so} subtle swipe at BAR's Glen Ford's reference to Obama as 'The More Effective Evil'] article curiously [& IMO disingenuously] put Eritrea's president in the same league w US allies [or proxy puppets] Yoweri Museveni & Paul Kagame- Even though Kagame & Museveni are both deeply implicated RE genocide [6 - 7 million lives lost & mass rapes] in the Congo [& even in Rwanda w 1 million lives lost], while Eritrea's gov't is NOT. Yet because Kagame & Museveni are the US' main African 'allies', the ICC has NOT [yet] brought a case against them, while curiously focusing instead on the disputed Kenyan elections of 2007 - 08 - which both sides were complicit in the deaths of several hundred to a couple of thousand Kenyans [on both sides]. Plus the fact that the ICC's indictment is against the current sitting & constitutionally elected Kenyan Pres [Jomo Kenyatta's son- again he AIN'T a dictator- DUHH] & his VP, sets a precedence that could be quite problematic in the future for African [& 3rd World] leaders, who find themselves on the US' &/or EU's [= the white neo-colonial powers] {s}Hit-List- whether elected or not. 

Curiously the ICC has NOT brought charges against any Kenyan or Ethiopian officials for their roles, at the behest of both the Bush Jr & Obama regimes', RE invading & destabilizing Somalia- which undoubtedly cost thousands, or even 10s / 100s of thousands, of Somalian lives [this is the main reason for that Nairobi Mall attack by Somali 'terrorists']- but then Ethiopia's & the previous Kenyan govts were US allies & Somalia was named as a target on the NeoCONs' {s}Hit-List. In fact if one looks at those African leaders the ICC has indicted, they're basically all on the US / EU [= NATO] {s}Hit-List IE: Sudan's Pres [Sudan was also specifically named on the NeoCONs' {s}Hit-List], Khadaffi [again specifically name as a target by the NeoCONs - FYI: Khadaffi had long been on FUK-US NATO's {s}Hit-List well before the so-called 'Arab Spring'], etc. The case of the ICC RE Libya shows just how duplicitous the ICC is w US / EU [= NATO] military imperial neo-colonial powers' agenda in Africa [& beyond]- by regurgitating [thus attempting to substantiate] FUK-US NATO's phony 'R2P' propaganda LIES demonizing Khadaffi [FYI: 'ironically' the US refuses to even recognize the ICC's jurisdiction RE itself], while FUK-US NATO & the GCC unleashed that RACIST AL-CIAeda linked Lynch MOB on Black Libyans & African migrants, for which NO-One to this day has been held accountable.

Last week Bro Glen Ford did an article on the ICC's conviction of ex Liberian 'Lord of War' Pres Charles Taylor, who indeed is a war criminal. Yet the ICC convicted Taylor for aiding & abetting crimes in Sierra Leone which cost thousands, or even 10s of thousands of lives, but  'curiously' NOT for Taylor's direct responsibility & participation in the Liberian civil war [even using child soldiers], which cost 250,000 - 400,000 lives! IMO: The reason why the ICC went after Taylor is because he went 'freelance / off script' RE the US' agenda RE Liberia- Yet the ICC prosecuted Taylor for aiding & abetting RE Sierra Leone, rather than for his direct participation in War Crimes & mass death RE Liberia's devastatingly bloody civil war, because to do so would likely have implicated the CIA's [= the US] & Liberia's current [war is] 'Peace Prize' winning Pres' roles in aiding & abetting Taylor. 


NOTE: I've attempted to post critiques of 2 of Pambazuka's pro ICC hype pieces [in their comment section], which apparently Pambazuka refuses to post.  

PS: Pambazuka has double-down on their feverent support of the ICC w 2 more articles this week: 'The AU’s mass treaty-cide brinksmanship' [by the same auther that called Mugabe a 'senile baffoon'] -&- 'ICC: Does politics win over justice?' [I guess to this author the ICC stands for 'justice' while the AU threats to pull out of the ICC due to its targeting Africans almost exclusively even for relatively minor 'offenses' (compared to major attrocites committed by the US &/or EU {= NATO} themselves &/or their African 'allies') if not outright dubious allegations- represents 'politics']. The fact that Pambazuka et-al are looking for Africa's white ex-colonial masters from the EU [&/or the US] for justice outside of Africa / African herself / ourselves- Is TELLING.


If the ICC at The Hague in Netherlands is the venue  for settling Africa's disagreements caused by the western colonial powers who consider African vast natural resources their personal properties (national interest), WHY ON EARTH DO AFRICAN countries call themselves independent from the former colonial powers?

What does being an "independent country" mean to these African elites who are basically acting like security guards for the western corporations' economic exploits on African Soil?

There is mass unemployment of African youths in Africa. The only opportunity now open to majority of these unemployed young people is to enlist as fighters/security guards against their fellow Africans deemed by the west to be terrorists. The so called "African terrorists" include women and children who are sent fleeing for their lives in to refugees camps opened all over the continent! Yes, African youths are trained to kill and rape fellow Africans while the resources are being harvested non-stop! The only beneficiaries of these economic exploits are the loud elites like Desmond Tutu and Kofi Annan and their western allies. The African youths who are doing the killings are from very poor families! Once you have taken a human life you are screwed blue for life! So, African youths who are killing fellow Africans on command are screwed for life! The western economic interests in Africa are being served by shedding African blood with the blessing of paid off African elites!