- Post 30 March 2006
- Last Updated on 23 April 2008
- By Cecil Ibegbu
After the review of the escape from Nigeria of the Charles Taylor saga as it unfolds, and the consideration that one is more inclined to believe that regardless of the side that one finds himself or herself on, that there are still an obligation on each of us as informed Nigerians to understand the issues attendant to Charles Taylor, President Obasanjo, International Treaties compliances and non compliances of such Treaties thereof and how it all affects Nigeria, Africa, and the International community at large.
I will even before going any further, state that the International community and developed countries in particular have over the years adopted policies, treaties that are both bilateral and multilateral on human rights, free trade, monetary policies, environmental policies and lately terrorism and security issues et al, that are all inclusive to African affairs and problem solving without due consideration of Africa and the implication and application of such policies that have always failed to put into consideration the cultural issues attendant to it. Since cultures differ, human rights theory must accept the differing understandings and practices that give them public validity. And since culture acquires its force by defining for us who we are, human rights must accept that cultural status — ethnicity, class, gender and the like — can legitimately affect positions in the world as witnessed in Charles Taylor and President Obasanjo’s stance with the agreement of the AU and lack of the understanding of such agreement’s interpretation by the United States Congress.
Since the world comprises of more than a single public moral order, human rights application must recognize that boundaries between differing societies with differing histories and moral understandings are necessary, and that insistence on “inclusiveness” — comprehensive enforced unity — must be abandoned if one should take into account the religious, cultural and national boundaries differences.
Without a return to basic principles, “human rights” as an institution is likely to become more and more a vehicle for overreaching by well-placed ideological and imperial elites and thus defeat its proper purposes. The international community and United States well intentioned position on the repatriation of Charles Taylor is very suspect since the same rules of law in its application has not been extended to United States, President Bush, Donald Rumsfield and Dick Cheney, much especially, if the issue at contention are human rights abuses by Charles Taylor and Human Rights abuses in Iraq, Abu Grad and so on. Those purposes are too important to give up, so the tradition of human rights requires radical reinterpretation to save what is valuable in it. There have been many who have explained how various cultures and world religions can be reinterpreted to support human rights. It is far more important to explain how human rights, properly interpreted, can become consistent with cultures and world religions. That to me should be the appropriate approach and task that lies ahead in order to give it a more legitimized face and acceptance.
My people, I seriously feel all of you on this one and will even go on the limb to assert that just the mere fact that the creation of a permanent international criminal court, designed to hold individuals (rather than states) accountable for failing to obey international humanitarian law, promises to become the single most important international institutional advance since the founding of the United Nations more than a half century ago does not in essence make it so (equitable and just). Although nearly all of the world's democracies support the court, the United States opposes it.
The reason for U.S opposition is simple. All the temporary tribunals that the United States has supported were limited to investigating others; they could not hold U.S citizens accountable. Expecting that the new court would not be allowed to take any action until after a U.N. Security Council's decision had referred a case to the court. U.S officials at first also supported the proposed permanent court. Within the Security Council, Washington could use its veto power to prevent any investigation of itself or its friends. The United States wanted a court in which the prosecutor could never bring charges against anyone from the United States, although the United States could, through a Security Council decision, bring charges against others. This position so flagrantly violated principles of equal justice that eventually the rest of the world rejected the U.S position in order to establish a court with independent authority.
U.S officials as in the congress et al fear that the mere existence of an independent court might limit U.S uses of military power. To have a court ready to investigate U.S officials for war crimes or crimes against humanity might inhibit officials from sending forces into combat and using aerial bombardment that might kill many civilians. Yet the establishment of the proposed court does not change the law governing international military conduct. The question one should ask then is, if U.S military actions are legal, it has nothing to fear from the court.
U.S. leaders fear that an international prosecutor might bring politically motivated charges against U.S. officials. The concern about politically motivated prosecutions of U.S. (or other) nationals is understandable, but the treaty contains four important safeguards to address this concern, like in limiting the Courts Jurisdiction to only serious crimes of humanity; the use of the principle of complementarity’s; that simply means that the court will not be allowed to act when national judicial systems are available and willing to prosecute suspects, accountability from the prosecutors and prudence in the election or nomination of Judges.
United States claims that the court's prosecutor has too much independence to launch investigations, because he or she could do so without a Security Council decision.
For the world's only democratic superpower to encourage other countries to reject law enforcement and to keep themselves outside the law is a disastrous policy that will boomerang, as could be seen from the difficulties in the Charles Taylor issue, and on many more legal issues than the criminal court itself. In refusing to participate constructively in international law enforcement, U.S officials seem to confirm the claim by Milosevic, Hussein, Qadafi and others that international trials are not impartial and are politically motivated, because the law does not apply equally to all. As in Charles Taylor’s case, no one is in support of the killer, but does US have the moral right to enforce his arrest prosecution et al while at the same time holding itself above the same treaties, laws et al that they are using to hold him to account?
Re: .The inconsistent application and use of International Criminal Court of Justice
Thanks for thinking differently.....someone once stated on this site that it's very refreshing once in a while to see a contributor with a different outlook----far beyond the bandwagon, rhetorics and one-way-traffic.
Well.....I'm a bit guilty here too 'cause I'm often attracted to any article that condemns Obj and his wayo government. But I'm not going to blindly support an opinion or thread that is plain silly all because it condemns Obj.
And that's why I'm against all this wahala over Charles Taylor. Must we always dance to the tunes of the Americans? The same Americans don't give a damn about any country or group of people except where their political and economic interests are being served.
While most Nigerians will always do "follow-follow" for foreign governments and agencies and allow them dictate how we do our things, Americans and other western people don't care a hoot. They do what they like and to hell with Amnesty Intl and other foreign agencies.
---Americans are not signatories to the establishment of the Interl war crimes tribunal....yet, they want Charles Taylor and their other enemies to be brought before the war tribunals!
---American government don't give a damn about the eco system but they will be quick to make noise about Niger Delta.
---And before we forget, the American government keep saying they believe in using torture to pry info from "terrorists" but the same Americans will keep condemning China, Russia and several other nations over "human rights abuses". The Chinese government was so pissed off recently that it reacted to another American noise by listing all the inconstitencies and contradictions of the Americans.
As the great Bob Marley sang many years ago, we Nigerians need to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery.....we can't keep using America and other western nations as yardsicks for everything we do.