In a recent post, the Enough blog discussed a poll by WorldPublicOpinion.org that showed there is much popularity for the indictment of Omar al-Bashir among the populations of some African countries — contrary to the position of the AU, which has rejected the ICC’s move.
Maybe African leaders are “out of step” with their populaces, Enough suggested. And in another post, the group questioned the judgment of those leaders for other reasons. An excerpt:
The AU includes a fair number of leaders with a lot of blood on their hands, so it’s no surprise that they would seek to shield themselves from individual prosecution. But for the victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the institutionalization within the AU of impunity for the likes of Bashir, Mugabe, Deby, Meles, Issayas, Kagame, and Gaddafi is deeply troubling.
I have no idea how thorough the poll is, but the Enough posts raise a few issues in my mind:
- Is the ICC’s mandate based on public opinion or law? And if you argue that public opinion should guide it, doesn’t that reinforce the idea that it’s a body guided by politics, and not justice?
- If having blood on your hands is the rubric for judging what say you get to have over the ICC, then what to make of the fact that this case originated with the UN Security Council? The permanent members’ records are probably a big reason Arab states oppose the indictment.
It just seems like people want the ICC to be a pure vehicle for justice sometimes, and then are totally fine with discussing it like it’s a political body the next moment. Whatever suits the overall agenda.