My Appeal To Young women: Be the agents of Change Africa Needs
January 24, 2013 | 1 Comments
By Grace Ruvimbo Chirenje*
I was recently reading a book about Africa Changers by Bishop Ed Bilong from Cameroon and it got me thinking about a Youth21 Forum I attended in 2012 hosted by UNDP and UNHABITAT. It was a very insightful meeting and I was inspired to return to Zimbabwe to do the most amazing possible things so as to transform not just my nation but Africa as a whole. What Bilong stimulated recently was the perspective of Africa and how as a young feminist leader I am able to make things happen from where I currently stand. As a result of this inspiration, I thought it worthwhile to share a few insights to fellow African sisters and us all so we can begin to take the necessary steps to transforming not just our lives but the lives of those around us. Knowing oneself and leaving a legacy will be the two aspects I will focus on.
Introspection is a painful yet very necessary journey. In Africa today, women and young women in particular occupy the periphery of leadership. The reasons are best known to the powers that be but one thing for sure is that nothing will be handed to women on a silver platter. In that regard, it is important that as young women leaders, we take a stance to get to understand ourselves better and recognize where our strengths lie and manage our weaknesses enough to ensure that we create opportunities and where they are presented to us we occupy them. It is therefore necessary that at whatever leadership level and with particular reference to governance where 50-50 representation lacks greatly, young women begin to take steps to empower themselves and lead as best as they can. It will not be an easy road but it is possible hewn we focus to know ourselves and what we can offer and do just that, lead!
Generally, Africans are known to want to acquire and do not have the heart to maintain and sustain. Young women of this generation who are faced by very high unemployment rates and education curriculums that do not match the requirements of the workforce industry need to wake up and face the reality that this is the time to create employment and not seek it. Looking at whatever is within our means so as to acquire what is already in existence or create what is possible, young women have to leave a legacy for generations to come. Be gone to this nationalist talk where some have decided to utilize it as an avenue to abuse power and follow selfish personal ambitions. Young feminist changers can ensure that today they can decide to leave a lasting legacy that will inspire generations to come so that they too can acquire, maintain and sustain whatever is trusted within their care.
As the continent continues to make slow and steady strides of progress, women have to been more assertive. Despite cultural barriers which keep doors of opportunity shut for women, there is the potential for things to change. The women have the numbers, there are getting more educated and in all spheres of life, there have been ample examples to show that there can fare as well as men if not better in the face of equal opportunity. It is inspirational to see two female Presidents in the continent in the person of Joyce Banda of Malawi and Sirleaf Johnson of Liberia. It is great to see that the President of the African Union Dr Dhlamini Zuma is a female. From sports, to entertainment, entrepreneurship et al, women are taking charge and the trend must continue. Not to forget our very own Thokhozani Khupe, Joyce Mujuru and Priscilla Misihairambwi Mushonga who have braved the male dominated political sector in Zimbabwe to ensure that women’s voices are integrated into political leadership – what an inspiration!
Finally, a word of wisdom is that nothing will be handed to the younger female generation on a silver platter so now is the time to begin to ensure that we decide what we want and we go for it. Thabo Mbeki during the Forum mentioned earlier, urged the younger generation to make a difference to ensure that Africa becomes a force to reckon with and not just hang out waiting for the next best thing. If young women can stand as mothers, sisters, aunts and all sorts, it is very possible that they may know themselves better, create, acquire and leave a lasting legacy. There is no limit to our potential so let us go for it and make Africa worth the glory and change!
* Grace Ruvimbo Chirenje is a young feminist leader from Harare, Zimbabwe. Currently she is the Director of Zimbabwe Young Women’s Network for Peace Building (ZYWNP). Grace is the Vice Chairperson of Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and board member of Centre for Community Development in her efforts to contribute to the democratization process of Zimbabwe
Recolonizing Africa Through International Criminal Justice
January 18, 2013 | 3 Comments
By Charles Taku*
A) THE HARD QUESTIONS.
It is appropriate for me to state right away that Africa is sick; very sick indeed. International crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and lately crimes of aggression abound in Africa and must be investigated and punish. However, as I pointed out elsewhere, international crimes have no ethnicity, race, nationality or religion. That is the reason why the UN Charter prohibits selective and discriminatory policies. Inspired and drawing from the UN Charter, International Law, in particular International Human Rights and International Criminal Law expressly prohibit selective and discriminatory application and enforcement of the Law established by its respective conventions and covenants.
Much as crimes perpetrated in Africa must be vigorously investigated and punished within credible independent, legal frameworks with the territories of the countries in which such crimes have been perpetrated as well as the International legal institutions, including the ICC, the Ad Hoc Tribunals and Courts that the International Community may set up to deal with the situations, where such efforts are perceived to have been carried out through deliberate discriminatory and selective policies over a period as long as a decade, it must be condemned with the same vehemence as we condemned the crimes that are subject of the discriminatory and or selective processes. Doing so is consistent with the intendment of the UN Charter and the Statute of the various Courts and Tribunals set up to trial international Crimes and promote and or protect fundamental human rights of which fundamental fairness is a critical component.
It is within this context that I must emphasize for the purpose of this paper that the preamble of the United Nations (UN) Charter states that the United Nations was created “ To save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our life time, has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom”.
The human rights basis for the creation of the UN is firmly stated in articles 1 (3), 55 (C) from which all International Human Rights Conventions as well as the Statutes of International Courts and Tribunals derive their legality and legitimacy. It is my considered opinion that the United Nations has failed to reasonably invoke and apply these stated goals in resolving Africa’s problems. Where the UN has intervened, it has done so selectively and humiliatingly against the interest of a majority of the people and contrary to the goals and standards set out in its charter, general principles of international law and custom. The exacerbation of bloody armed conflicts on the African continent in 2012, despite what may be construed as largely selective, discriminatory, politically motivated, timid efforts deployed by the UN and the International Community to address the situations supports this harsh judgment.
This assessment finds support from an unusual source. President Paul Biya of Cameroon, one of the longest serving dictators in Africa, whose human rights record and democratic credentials are among the worst in the world, harshly criticized the UN record in the enforcement of its charter mandate, and questioned its relevance in a feisty address to the Diplomatic Corps in Yaounde on January 3, 2013. This charge coming as it were, from one of the promoters of the culture of impunity on the continent and a noted violator of international law ascertained from his refusal to engage in constructive dialogue ordered by the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights with representatives of the Southern Cameroons under its auspices since April 2009 to resolve constitutional and other arrangements, carries particular significance. In the pugnacity of his criticism, a careful observer will readily discern that he spoke for the majority on the African continent when he charged that the UN has failed Africa in time of need, critically, within its half decade of cosmetic independence from colonial rule.
Significantly, citing the “ high level meeting on the rule of law that was held in New York on the sidelines of the last UN General Assembly, which dwelled on the primacy of international law in conflict resolution as well as the key role of International Court of Justice and the Security Council”, President Paul Biya, lamented the fact that “ the international situation is marked politically by a number of persisting stalemates and outbreak of open conflicts the laudable efforts of the Secretary-General and the influence of major powers have failed to resolve or appease”.
On the Middle East situation between Israel and the Palestinians, Mr Biya accused the major powers of sacrificing the merit of the case for their strategic interests. On the Syrian civil war, he wondered “how many more deaths will it take to move the international community?”
Underscoring with regret that many on the African Continent were sacrificed in their quest for a just transition from “authoritarian regimes to democracy”, he cited examples South of the Sahara, namely the cases of Mali, where parts of its national territory is illegally occupied by armed factions, the Democratic Republic of the Congo ( DRC) which has been “ temporarily invaded by forces with outside support and is consequently not under the authority of the central power” and the Central Africa Republic which faced the risk of a civil war. According to Mr Paul Biya, this non exhaustive list of unresolved and escalating conflicts underscore the fact that international law is violated with impunity; compelling him to ask the following questions for which I will provide some answers since like many progressive voices on the continent, I had addressed the same issue in the past:
Quote: “Does the United Nations Organization, which is supposed to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Charter, have the means to accomplish its mission, when such provisions are openly transgressed?
– Or is it limited only to making resolutions and recommendations, sending observer missions or peacekeepers, often in insufficient numbers?
Of course, I am aware that the issues I have raised have been discussed in the Security Council where disagreement between the permanent members made it impossible to consider any decisive action.
But such helplessness in the face of acute crisis situations severely affects the image of the United Nations. It only emphasizes the urgent need for reform of the composition and functioning of the Security Council.
If the provisions of the Charter do not necessarily inspire Security Council decisions, and if the relationship of permanent members with international law is based on unequal expression of power, then one cannot help being worried about the future of international democracy”. End of quote.
Before venturing to provide answers to the questions, I wish to state that in adopting the position of the majority against which he has fought for most of his 30 years of dictatorial rule, President Paul Biya hoped to hoodwink and manipulate international public opinion and preposition himself as a leader within the emerging pro-people African Revolutionary Movement that has laid down the fundamental basis for the rightful ideological perspective on how to rescue Africa from the current international ideological drift that emerged after the cold war.
I should place on record therefore, that Mr. Paul Biya pays lip service to the values he preached. For example, in February 2008, Mr Paul Biya followed the trend of other dictators in Africa, in particular Francophone Africa in manipulating and changing the constitution of his country, to eternalize power. On his orders, armed soldiers slaughtered more than 148 documented armless citizens who were among the millions who protest the power grab; making him one of the dictators who sacrificed his own people in their quest for a just transition from his “authoritarian regime to democracy”.
The group of progressive African leaders he hoped by this speech to find a spot among include champions of the African causes like President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania and President Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone, amongst others. Apart from being the voice of Africa within international circles, their leadership in this evolving political, economic and democratic ideological movement derives from their record in advocating and the promotion of fair and independent international rule of law on the African Continent and their record in the promotion of dialogue, peace and reconciliation at home and abroad. As the struggle for the soul of Africa in 2013 and beyond intensifies, the possibility exists that many more dictators will make frantic attempts, genuine or otherwise, to seek the spot light in this progressive train which is moving Africa away from the neo-colonial bondage that they in their puppetry plunged the troubled continent.
Be this as it may, the questions asked by Mr Biya without providing adequate answers are weighty and I must venture to provide answers where necessary.
B) CRITICAL QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS.
Question: Does the United Nations Organization, which is supposed to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Charter, have the means to accomplish its mission, when such provisions are openly transgressed?
Answer: The answer is clearly yes. The UN has the means to accomplish its mission, if I and when doing so will advance the strategic interest of the so-called super powers. In the particular case of Africa, the so-called super powers and their Western allies are aware, and have done all to underscore the fact that the at the creation of the UN in 1946, Africa was not a subject of International Law; for which reason, the provisions of the Charter did not apply to Africa. These Western countries were still enjoying the fruits of the criminal dehumanization of Africa that commenced with the Slave Trade and accentuated at the Berlin Conference in 1884.
This explains why countries like France, a victim of International Crimes permitted by Hitler and the Nazis during the Second World War, joined most Western Countries to perpetrate egregious international crimes against Pro-independence Movements within colonial territories and former German “possessions” from 1948, a complete mockery of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was promulgated to reaffirm the UN Charter protection of “ faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom”.
President Paul Biya correctly cited cases in Africa where UN resolutions have been violated and impunity continued unsanctioned. Notable in this regard is the case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) where he stated, parts of its national territory has been “temporarily invaded by forces with outside support and is consequently not under the authority of the central power”.
In the case at bar, it may be safe to state that, consistent with the UN and International Human Rights investigative reports more than six million people have been slaughtered or died from the effect of the war in the East of the DRC. The presence in the region prior to and after independence of the super powers during the perpetration of these crimes cannot be reasonably contested. Indeed, the DRC was a major cold war battleground on the African Continent and remains a spoil of war in the hands of colonial and neo-colonial political and economic interests. Rwanda and to a lesser extent Uganda that has supported and sustained the rebellion in the East of Congo have done so first as proxies of foreign economic interests and for the pecuniary benefits of political leaders in both countries.
It is also not reasonably disputed that Rwanda is not endowed with mineral resources. However the Semi Official New Times of Kigali reported that President Kagame in his address to the Nation on the occasion of the New Year revealed without elaborating that
“the mining sector continues to play a big role in growing our economy. This year, revenue from mineral resources totaled close $ 128 million and is expected to rise which will result in more benefits for Rwandans, including additional employment”.
The UN had long established that one of the motivations for the involvement of neighboring and foreign countries in the war in the DRC was to illegally exploit its vast mineral resources. The neighboring countries did not seriously contest the findings. Rather they intensified their intervention, and with it the acts of impunity which have presented the UN as powerless to bring these regional leaders to justice.
The ICC which was created by the international community to fight impunity after more than a century of the search for a standing international court has been largely ineffective, preferring to squander scarce resources to go after peripheral individuals in cases that have exposed its irrelevance as an impartial, credible, independent weapon to fight impunity and uphold the rule of law. In its selective politically motivated interventions in situations in Kenya, Libya, Cote D’Ivoire, Sudan and Uganda, it has exposed itself to criticism right or wrong as a neo-colonial tool of regime change, and defense of Western interests, particularly world powers that have not ratified or acceded to the Rome Statute. In Uganda, like in Kenya, it scuttled serious attempts to employ the greatest contribution that Africa has made to International Law, the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions and other more viable avenues of conflict resolution in settling the disputes and bringing about justice to victims and reconciliation to the countries concerned.
The rather aggressive and haughty posturing by the erstwhile Prosecutor Moreno Ocampo was widely resented by most African countries, including those like Uganda which made the referral in the first place, and hampered state co-operation without which the ICC cannot effectively execute its mandate. As war ravages in many African countries and precious blood spilled, the ICC is bogged down in the situation in Kenya which its Prosecutor mislead by political interests for the first and only time in the history of the court on his own initiated the legal process.
In ten years of its existence, the trial record of the ICC is disappointing compared to that of the Special Court for Sierra Leone that was created the same year like the ICC. It took the ICC ten years to complete its first case, the Thomas Lebunga Case with a much mitigated result and after being rebuked for using intermediaries to collect evidence and a colossal loss in the second case, that of Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui. In an article titled “ Latest ICC judgment reveals an ineffectiveness of Court” posted in Foreign Policy Association Website dated December 18, 2012, Daniel Donavan , harshly criticized the focus by the Prosecutor on periphery characters in African wars, underscoring the finding by the Trial Chamber in the case that the acquittal of Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui did not mean that the crimes were not perpetrated, a veil reference to the fact that the real perpetrators of the crimes alleged were not brought before the Court. Following on this track record, the case of the situation in Kenya may be the greatest embarrassment to the ICC in that the main conduit through which the “secret envelope” and the evidence on the basis of which indictments were brought against six prominent Kenyans, former UN Secretary General Koffi Anan has been reported in the Kenya Press, as providing the political motivations for his role and conduct in the legal process by publicly calling on Kenyans not to vote for those standing trial at the ICC. His failure to cause the UN to promptly take action to abate the Rwandan Genocide that unfolded on his watch and his controversial role in the Kenyan legal process when he was invited as the peace envoy of the African Union (AU) but submitted the information on the basis of which charges were brought to the Prosecutor of the ICC rather than the AU has dented his image before a significant component of African public opinion.
The situation in Cote D’Ivoire and Libya which continue to deteriorate provides justification for the allegation that the ICC may be an instrument for regime Change. It is reasonably doubted if proper investigations were conducted by the ICC Prosecutor in the territory of Cote D’Ivoire against Laurent Gbagbo, his wife Simone and close collaborators during the French and UN led assault on the Presidential Palace leading to his arrest and that of Libya leading to the indictment of Moamar Gaddafi and his close associates that included his son, at the heat of NATO bombardment of Libya and thereafter, his leading assassination.
The UN interventions in these situations and the rather questionable role of the ICC Prosecutor in initiating perceived politically motivated prosecutions that favored partisan and specific interests has crystallized in the fight for the soul of Africa by powerful neo-colonial interests using none states actors so-called “good rebels” and puppets dictators on the one hand and “bad rebels” and revolutionary anti neo-colonial regimes on the other hand.
With this, the Responsibility to Protect Mandate of the UN Security Council in which the UN and Western Governments have co-opted the ICC to provide legal support to its military efforts and mission has strengthened impunity on the continent. The ICC which was created to fight impunity so far has lost its impartiality, independence and legitimacy to carry out its mandate.
There are strong indications, that instead of combating or discouraging impunity, the perceived unfairness of the ICC selective and discriminatory Prosecutions has intensified impunity and lawlessness in the situations in which it has intervened. The referral in the situation on Central Africa Republic made by the current President Bozozie after his rebellion against seized power led to investigations that are ongoing to a Popular Politician/ Militia Leader in neighboring DRC Jean Claude Bemba being indicted. Embolden by his ability to use the ICC process to intimidate politician opponents and strengthen his hold on power, Francois Bozozie ignored the peace process leaving the rebel and his political opponents and those opposed to the selective targeting of opponents through the ICC investigations to intensify the campaign to seize power by the use of armed force. That, in their estimation is the only way to permanently bring political change and insulates themselves from the permanent threat of ICC investigations and possible prosecutions.
In the Congo, the combined effect of the selective prosecutions conducted by the ICTR and the ICC has instead embolden Rwanda to support the rebellion in East DRC and the plethora of rebel organizations in the DRC to see total war and victory as the only means of attaining their divergent but very violent objectives. In Kenya, a relatively stable country in a volatile sub region with weak but performing legal institutions which could be improved with some effort, and which is at war in Somalia on behalf of the International Community the inappropriate disregard for the principle of complementarity and the legally unsubstantiated prosecution of senior politicians on grounds perceived to be political on the personal initiative of the Prosecutor promises to be politically explosive and destabilizing.
In Uganda, where the government made the referral but later ascertained that it could attain the double aims of ending the rebellion with the rebel commanders voluntarily surrounding to a an internal judicial structure provided by the country’s constitution, co-operation with the ICC was terminated for insisting of pursuing the matter which led to the peace process crumbling with continuation of the war and the loss of hundreds of thousands of life.
In Cote D’Ivoire like in Libya, the ICC process has become the rallying cry for violent conflict and impunity. Opponents see the process as being abused and used to support and sustain a political system rather than do dispassionate justice as mandated by the Statute of the Court.
The ICC has so far not been able to find a balance between the exercise of its prosecutorial discretion and prerogatives and the deference and respect for other channels of bringing peace and stability to war ravaged African countries where it has intervened. The sensitivity of the Special Court for Sierra Leone to the process and work of the Peace Reconciliation Commission in Sierra Leone helped to bring closure to the rancor that was caused by the war and its brutality. At the end the Special Court and the Peace and Reconciliation Commission complemented each other without compromising the integrity and independence of each other.
It is feared that if the current trend at the ICC continues, it will provide an opportunity for dictatorial regimes of war mongers that the process has served so well in the past decade to persist in abusing the referral process for political purposes. When they feel threatened they will put in place mechanisms whose purport is to shield them from prosecution, a privilege that they have enjoyed thanks to the ICC with the selective and discriminatory prosecutions that has made a mockery of international law. Were that to happen as it may be the case, the ICC will be held tacitly responsible for setting a threshold that has strengthen the tyranny of dictatorial regimes that happen to be neo-colonial puppets of Western geo strategic and economic interests and impunity that can only be ended with the escalation of armed conflicts, and needless loss of lives.
It is hope that in 2013, the new Prosecutor Ms Fatou Bensouda assisted by a very professional Deputy James Steward will work hard in depoliticizing the ICC by distancing the Office of the Prosecutor and its prosecutorial authority from powerful neo-colonial interests whose goals and objectives are at variance with those assigned to the ICC by the Rome Statute. It is then and only then that the fight against impunity on the African continent by the ICC will be real and meaningful.
Question: Is the UN limited only to making resolutions and recommendations, sending observer missions or peacekeepers, often in insufficient numbers?
Answer: Part of the answer to this question is provided by President Biya himself when he stated that he was “ aware that the issues he raised have been discussed in the Security Council where disagreement between the permanent members made it impossible to consider any decisive action” and that “such helplessness in the face of acute crisis situations severely affects the image of the United Nations and only emphasizes the urgent need for reform of the composition and functioning of the Security Council”.
In respect of Africa, the answer to this question must perforce focus on the fact that Africa is still a victim and not subject of international law. In 1884, the partition of Africa and the egregious international violations that Africa has suffered ever since was considered legal in International Law. In a presentation I made during an International Law Conference in Montreal on September 28, 2012, I underscored the fact that shortly after the Berlin Conference, the First World Peace Conference held in The Hague in 1898 and the Second took place in 1907 but Africa was not even on the agenda. To these powers, Africa and Africans were chattel.
Africans and the world at large need to know the hard facts underlying their place and plight in International law and International Relations. The so-called civilized world is still struggling with how to fully characterize and accommodate Africa in International Law. This is implicit in their relations with Africa and the application of International Law to African Conflicts. This explains the disparity in its intervention between the war in the ex-Yugoslavia as opposed to that in Rwanda, its indifference and then support for the culture of impunity in the DRC, its selective prosecutions in Kenya, Cote D’Ivoire, the Sudan and its failure to consider the introduction of transitional justice in redressing the wars crimes perpetrated in Somalia and bring to an end the impunity that threatens the long and short term, the stability of the entire sub region from Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, Rwanda and the DRC.
Question: If the provisions of the Charter do not necessarily inspire Security Council decisions and if the relationship of permanent members with international law is based on unequal expression of power, then one cannot help being worried about the future of international democracy?
Answer: The exploited, abused and endangered people of Africa who are victims of neo-colonial power play that encourages impunity and adversely affect them ought to be very worried about the future of international democracy. President Biya is right in asserting that the “provisions of the (UN) Charter do not necessarily inspire Security Council decisions and that the relationship of permanent members with international law is based on unequal expression of power”. Falling within this category is the controversial invocation of the Responsibility to Protect Mandate to effect regime change in which one dictator is replaced by a group of rebels and criminal gangs further endangering the lives of Africans and compromising their independence, economic wellbeing and future.
Question: What then is the future of “international democracy” under these circumstances?
Answer: The future of “international democracy” is not threatened by this Post -Cold War world so-co economic and political strategic ideology. Rather, the future of Africa is seriously compromised. African and Africans have never been free as such. The ritual that passed for independence from 1960 in most African countries was quickly high jacked by the former colonial powers using neo-colonial puppets who imposed conditions of living and socio -economic and political policies that made the serfdoms unstable, leading to the wars and the selective application of International law that place the sovereignty of African states under the supervision of the erstwhile colonial powers.
The situation that obtained in Ghana aptly painted by CLR James in “Nkrumah and the Ghana Revolution “ where many African intellectuals, Lawyers, Professionals, the Merchant Class and Chiefs radically opposed the Independence of Ghana because they benefitted from the colonial system still applies today. Professor George Ayittey in “Africa Unchained” quoting Colonel Yohanna Madaki (rtd) provides an example of the treachery of these opportunistic class of Africans “when General Yakubu Gowan drew up plans to return Nigeria to civil rule in 1970, academicians began to present researched papers pointing to the fact that military rule was better and preferred since civilians had not learnt any lessons sufficient enough to entrust with governance of the country”. More recently in Cameroon, University Professors led by the Director of the International Institute of International Relations (IRIC) who was later appointed technical adviser to President Biya, organized conferences to explain to the national and international public opinion that the constitutional clause that imposed term limits to the office of the President was undemocratic and urged President Biya to scrap that provision to enable him contest elections under an election process controlled at all stages of the electoral process by him, thus paving the way for him to eternalized power. Conduct like this, is what breeds conflict in the continent, making it possible for the UN and external forces to set in motion processes and policies which have and continue to enslave and endanger “ international democracy” in Africa.
Question: What must therefore be done to protect Africa under these circumstances?
Answer: Africa and Africans must admit that the destiny of Africa lies in the hands of Africans. The foot soldiers and puppets who have ruined Africa and facilitate the exploitation and rape of Africa are Africans. It is the duty of Africans to provide reasonable alternatives to these class of individuals.
We must learn from the experiences of some of the countries that are responsible for the plight of Africa today. Some of them underwent some of the same violations and humiliations at some point in time in their history. The progressive forces in those countries rose and mobilized the people to liberate themselves. It is our turn to do so.
The progressive forces in and out of Africa and friends of Africa must come together, like Marcus Garvey, George Pardmore, Osageyfo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Zik of Africa, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere mobilized the continent and the world to reclaim the continent for Africans and proclaimed the humanity of the black race on the face of the world. The time for the debate on the bigger issues that confront Africa is now. It took a Nelson Mandela and his friends to challenge the conscience of the world on the egregious crimes of apartheid and to prove to the world that black rule in South Africa was inevitable. It took the vision and courage of a Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere to support and sustain the liberation struggle in Southern Africa that led to the victory of freedom over colonial rule in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa itself.
Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere himself stated as early as 1964 in an address to delegates to the KANU conference in Dar Es Salaam that for us to confront the challenges of the present and the future, we must challenge the past and critically examine where we went wrong and what we can do to right the wrongs and move on in the right direction. I suggest that progressive forces in Africa and the black race can make that critical examination of what is wrong with Africa and come up with solutions that will impose respect, compliance and execution by the rest of the world. The time to mobilize progressive forces the world over for a Pan Africa Progressive World Forum that will critically examine what is wrong with Africa and chat the course for Africa and all black peoples the world over for future is now.
Then and only then will our so-called independence have meaning and the black race assured of its existence in the world.
*Chief Charles A.Taku is Lead Counsel at the UNCITR, Special Court for Sierra Leone, The ICC. He is Author of a new hot selling book: Contextual Foundations of International Criminal Jurisprudence: Selected Cases, available at www.takujurisprudence.com, www.amazon.com, www.barnes and noble.com
Job and wealth creation in Africa (1)
September 22, 2012 | 0 Comments
By President Olusegun Obasanjo*
I was privileged, as the Patron of the Africa Governance, Leadership and Management Convention jointly organized by Kenya Institute of Management (KIM) and Africa Leadership Forum (ALF) and strongly supported by the UNDP, to preside and deliver an Opening Remark recently in Mombasa, Kenya. I feel constrained to share the view I expressed at that Convention and the conclusion of the Convention with the readers of this column. But first my remarks: “We have gathered this year to follow up our previous engagements in the last three years on the need to match growth with development and improved standard of living in Africa. Last year, at this same venue, myself and other leaders of the public and private sector in Africa spent an interesting and quite engaging two days on the issues of leadership development in Africa.
One of the major outcomes of that engagement was the reiteration of the fact that in spite of the good news in terms of economic growth, the challenges confronting Africa remain daunting.
This is because the acclaimed growth has been accompanied by increased poverty and more joblessness. For us to address this concern more appropriately there is a need for a resurgence of dialogue on African Renaissance in content and context, anchored on the principle of public-private partnership and driven by the spirit Q u o t e o f t h e d a y of enterprise and entrepreneurship.
“It is, therefore, in this light, that the Secretariat of this Convention has brought us together to take a more critical look at our economic growth indices and its impact on the life of African citizens.
“The need to assess the challenges and highlight the opportunities for Sustainable Wealth and Job Creation in Africa cannot be over-emphasized.
This is because it remains by far the most worrisome challenge of most African countries at the moment. Everywhere we turn to in Africa, the story is the same. Unemployed young people are in huge numbers.
The lack of opportunities for them to unleash their creative energies positively has turned them into desperate young men and women, unfortunately becoming ready-made tools for unwholesome activities.
“The memory of the ‘Arab spring’ is still fresh in our minds and it tells an apt story of what our continued foot-dragging on lifting the critical mass of people above poverty levels can unleash suddenly and destructively.
Dr. Kaberuka has told us an eye-witness story of how it all began in Tunisia. “That Africa generally is experiencing positive growth within its economic frontiers today is no more news.
That we survived the global financial crisis with very little effect is also not in doubt.
What is, however, worrisome is the fact that substantial gains achieved on the economic front and the high economic growth rates in GDP terms have not been matched by corresponding improvement in the living standards of our people. It seems that the richer our countries become in GDP terms, the more our people get enmeshed in poverty.
It is clear that in addition to GDP as a factor of measure of growth, we need another factor of measurement of the well-being and improved living standard of our people.
“This was noted in the recently launched 2012 Annual Report of the Africa Progress Panel of which I am a member.
The report stated that countries across Africa are becoming richer but whole sections of society are being left behind. After a decade of buoyant growth, almost half of Africans still live on less than $1.25 a day.
Wealth disparities are increasingly visible. The current pattern of trickle-down growth is leaving too many people in poverty, too many children hungry and too many people especially young people without jobs. Governments are failing to convert the rising tide of wealth into opportunities for their most marginalised citizens. Unequal access to health, education, adequate food and nutrition, water and sanitation is reinforcing wider inequalities.
Smallholder agriculture has not been part of the growth surge, leaving rural populations trapped in poverty and vulnerability .
*The Author is a former President of Nigeria. Contribution culled from http://nationalmirroronline.net
TO BE CONTINUED
Cameroonians Abroad Poised for Major Impact
July 25, 2012 | 0 Comments
By Denis Foretia, MD.MPH.MBA*
Every student of history or international development would certainly agree that my country, Cameroon, faces tremendous challenges if it is to seriously implement a growth agenda in order to regain its economic footing. These students would also agree that while structural issues diminish the prospects of an economic renaissance, significant opportunities exist to re-engineer a collective political dispensation as a necessary precursor to socio-economic prosperity. For the last decade, we have maintained a staggering unemployment rate of greater than 30 percent. In 2009, the government of Cameroon put together the Vision 2035 strategy with the goal of attaining middle-income status by 2035. For this to be remotely feasible, the country must sustain double-digit growth in its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The fact that our GDP growth has not reached 5% since the onset of this strategy is not particularly surprising. Bretton Woods institutions estimate only a 4.5% increase in GDP for 2013. It is particularly informative that the government of Cameroon, in its Vision 2035 plan has no real strategy for engaging the Cameroonians residing abroad.
While many African countries, notably Senegal, Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria have made tangible efforts to attract diasporan investments, we in Cameroon have proceeded very timidly. The recent presidential degree, issued late last year amid the October presidential elections, to extend voting rights to Cameroonians abroad was largely seen as window-dressing to a problem that should pre-occupy the government’s growth agenda.
Despite the timidity with regards to the formulation and passage of the Cameroon Diaspora Bill, efforts are underway among Cameroonian communities abroad to facilitate the country’s economic transformation. A growing consensus has emerged among Cameroonians in the United States to play such a pivotal role with regards to Diaspora-Directed Investments and the conveyor belt for foreign-direct investment, the strengthening of civil society and the spearheading of progressive economic policies.
The Cameroon Professional Society (CPS) is a key organization in the quest for substantive diaspora engagement. Some have argued that it is the singular organization with a truly “national” agenda. With its focus of “nurturing tomorrows leaders today” the CPS has expanded the playing field, energized Cameroonians from all professions and has laid a detailed framework for harnessing the socio-economic potential of Cameroonians abroad. The CPS Diaspora Proposal calls for government incentives that are not only broad in scope but equally deep in reach. It calls for the elimination of travel bottlenecks, the facilitation of land ownership, business creation and the strengthening of our legal framework.
CPS activities have demonstrated its broad reach and unique perspective on macroeconomic policies. In fact, the Distinguished Annual Congress organized in Washington D.C provides the platform for critical appraisal of our current development trajectory by Cameroonian stakeholders, development institutions and foreign partners seeking to capitalize on the investment opportunities in the country. As Cameroonians and friends of Cameroon convene this weekend in Washington D.C for the 2012 CPS Distinguished Annual Congress, they will use the opportunity to focus on the Congress theme: – “Towards an Emerging Economy – The Road Map for Cameroon.”
Participants will discuss the feasibility of the 2035 strategy given the current growth projections, the state of both hard and soft infrastructure, the challenges facing our health, social services and educational sectors, and the credibility, or lack thereof, of our legal system. The Congress provides the opportunity for attendees to examine important areas in our feeble economy with a focus on the banking and informal sectors.
The world is changing rapidly, powered by the revolution in information technology especially within the last decade. As once famously said, even if we stumble in our quest for a better future, we, as a people, would still be moving forward. The 2012 CPS Distinguished Annual Congress will demonstrate that Cameroonians abroad are ready for constructive engagement. Now is the time to become part of the solution. http://congress.cpsociety.org
*Dr. Denis Foretia is a surgeon and president of the Cameroon Professional Society (CPS). He holds a medical degree from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, a Masters in Public Health from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins as well as a Masters in Business Administration from the Carey School of Business also at the Johns Hopkins University. For more information on the CPS,visit www.cpsociety.org
Introducing The African Kingdoms &Empires Theme Park or “Heritage City”
June 19, 2012 | 0 Comments
By Shanda Washington*
Despite its immense potential, Africa is grossly misunderstood by many across the world. Talk about Africa and based on the image that comes to many minds is one of misery, of disease, of illiteracy, of wars, famine, poverty and other negative labels used by the western media to brand the continent. Yet this is a continent described by US Under Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson as the last biggest emerging market in the world. It is home to some 54 countries or so I believe, it is a billion man strong markets; it has vast resources some of which are not found anywhere else in the world. Because of these resources, global powers are now making a mad rush for Africa. Beyond the vast scramble for resources that salivates predatory appetites, lies historic realities that the world is ignorant about or refuses to come to terms with. Africa is the continent where civilization started, it is the continent that is home to humanity, it is a continent that has some of the best cultures in the world, it a continent with some of the biggest empires that the world ever knew. It is partly in a bid to help immortalize the historical realities of Africa that the African Kingdoms Empires theme or “Heritage City was conceived.
Heritage city is designed to showcase Africa’s rich history, enhanced with modern technology to produce a total experience in learning, entertainment and relaxation for tourists and visitors. Heritage city represents the best initiative till date to present all of Africa’s diverse culture and history to tourists and visitors in one spot. By its existence, it is hoped that Heritage City will attract wide range of tourists from all over the world. For many African Americans who yearn to know more about their roots, the City offers a unique opportunity to get a healthy feel of Africa’s rich heritage presented in the best possible form with a dose of modernity.
The African Kingdoms and Empires Theme Park or “Heritage City”, is an idea conceived by a very good friend of mine Ekwo Omakwu, when Ekwo showed me the business plan way back in 2000, I knew I had found my life’s calling. Through lots of research, we realized that Africa did not have anything like what we were trying to do. I did not know a lot about Africa, just what I had heard. After all, they don’t teach us about Africa in school. Although so many African Americans are still not very knowledgeable about Africa a lot of it is not their fault. We are constantly being bombarded with negative images about Africa. I can remember telling my friends and family about Heritage City. And a lot of the responses were “who’s going to go to a theme park in Africa?’ “Isn’t everyone over there poor?”
When someone says that everyone in Africa is poor, I have to remind them that Porsche just opened up its first dealership on Victoria Island in Lagos. That is not to diminish the problems that the Continent does have. But, we know that Heritage city will bring thousands of jobs and boost tourism. In Monrovia, Liberia Kendeja a resort, built by African American multimillionaire and Black Entertainment television founder Robert Johnson, is a five star resort. Kendeja is the first new hotel to be built in Liberia in a decade. Retail giants like Wal-Mart are searching for inroads n the continent. I think those are positive signs for Africa and shows that Africa has potential and that people are starting to notice and understand that Africa is really the future. I think as an African Americans we have to be more proactive in our engagement with the continent. Just as the investment of Robert Johnson in Liberia is a salutary initiative so too is the school opened by Oprah Winfrey in South Africa, so too is the work done by Actor Isaiah Washington in Sierra Leone with his Goondobay Foundation. The Heritage City idea falls in line with these kind of initiatives which should forge greater bonds between mother Africa and its Diaspora.
We hope to put together groups of people to take to the park. It is so important for people to see for themselves, that what they show us about Africa is not the truth. But overall, I do feel that people have been very positive about the park. We have a Facebook page that has almost 50,000 likes.
We believe that Heritage City can help dispel the myths about Africa. Heritage city will promote a greater understanding of Africa and will highlight Africa’s contribution to human civilization. By focusing more on Africa’s pre-slavery and pre-colonial era, the achievements of African people that have been otherwise obscured will be showcased at the theme park.
Abuja- Nigeria’s capital was chosen as the location for Heritage City because it is fast becoming a magnet city for the West African sub-region and for the rest of Africa. It is a new city with new infrastructure and space for continuous expansion. There are also a number of amazing rock formations, waterfalls, hills and valleys in Abuja and surrounding areas. It must not be forgotten that Nigeria is the giant of Africa. It is the leader in the continent with developments be there social, economic or security wise which impact the rest of the continent positively or negatively. It was therefore appropriate that Nigeria be chosen to host this first of its kind project.
Heritage City Project is championed by Heritage City Parks Limited-a private development company based in Abuja, Nigeria. The project funding and planning was packaged
by the Washington; DC based US-Africa Technology Council, Inc. The project concept was developed since 2002 but administrative bottle-necks on the part of the Nigerian city government have since delayed the approval of a site for the project and its initial take-off in 2006.Nigeria is currently not known as a popular tourist destination. The promoters of Heritage City hope all that will change when Heritage City opens in 2013. The Heritage City Project stands to gain tremendously on an annual basis from a large influx of international tourists including African Americans, citizens of the Caribbean, and also indigenous Africans themselves who will be interested in learning more about their heritage in an atmosphere that is tranquil, relaxing and entertaining. The African Kingdoms and Empires Theme Park will promote Africa’s rich cultural heritage by focusing on the historical dimensions that shaped that heritage.
*Shanda Washington is the project assistant for Heritage city, and social media PR she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org ,cell phone 202-369-7170 .website www.heritagecitypark.com, Facebook page African heritage city.
THE CONVICTION OF CHARLES TAYLOR: THE SHAME OF AFRICA.
May 12, 2012 | 0 Comments
By Chief Charles. A. Taku*
Writing in the Virginia Journal of International Law, (volume 48-Number 3-Spring 2008 at page 543) Professor Iontcheva Turner stated that “the legal and political conceptions of international criminal trials are ideal types. To some degree, all law is political….. Even at trials which are not exclusively political, there are instances in which political and adjudicative purposes clash and one must be prioritized above the other”. This statement of fact aptly
describes the humiliating choices that inform the disproportionate focus of International Tribunals and Courts on Africa. The just concluded trial and conviction of Charles Ghankay Taylor falls squarely within this perspective.
Charles Ghankay Taylor was arrested in Nigeria on the 29 March 2006 and transferred to the Special Court for Sierra Leone. He made his initial appearance on the 3rd of April 2012. I was the first lawyer that Professor Vincent Nmehielle the then Principal Defender at the Special Court contacted to act as his duty counsel during his initial appearance. It was not possible for me to play that role because I was then the lead counsel for Major Morris Kallon. Morris Kallon was the indicted deputy leader of the Revolutionary United Front for Sierra Leone (RUF) who against the overwhelming opinion of most of the RUF combatants, accepted on the recommendation of regional ECOWAS leaders, to join Issa Sesay the interim leader of the Movement on the incarceration of Foday Sankoh to sign the Lome Peace Accord.
It is significant to note that the RUF was never defeated in the battle field after ten years of combat pitting them with a combined force of ECOMOG, UNAMSIL, Soldiers of the Sierra Leone Army, and Executive Outcomes Mercenaries from South Africa, the ULIMO rebel forces from Liberia and substantial Military support from Britain. It is also significant to note that the Sierra Leone war was brought to an end through substantial co-operation from Charles Taylor who on becoming the President of Liberia convinced the RUF to lay down arms and embrace the peace process. It was therefore, through the courage and good will of Charles Taylor, Morris Kallon and Isa Sesay that the Lome Peace Accord was negotiated and signed. That accord reserved the position of Vice President of Sierra Leone for Foday Sankoh the RUF leader and all the combatants who took part in the conflict were granted a general amnesty. A series of betrayals by the UN Personal Representative, President Tejan Kabbah and some regional leaders like President Obasanjo of Nigeria, prevented the amnesty clauses in the Lome Peace Accord as well as the positions reserved for Foday Sankoh and the RUF from been implemented. This treacherous position was endorsed by the Special Court for Sierra Leone; a hybrid International Court whose mandate was to bring justice and reconciliation to Sierra Leone. Because of this, the execution of its mandate is adjudged by many observers to be mitigated.
There can therefore, be no gainsaying that the trial and conviction of Charles Taylor like that of Isa Sesay and Morris Kallon , architects of the Lome Peace Accord that brought peace and stability in Sierra Leone and the sub region in total disregard of the Lome Peace Accord and the amnesty it granted is an act of betrayal that justifies the criticism often made, that the exercise of international justice on the African continent against Africans has other motivations that are inconsistent with the interests of the people it purports to serve. It is further safe to state that the setting up of the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the trial and conviction of Charles Taylor like that of Morris Kallon and Isa Sesay does not contribute to peace and security in the sub region. Rather, it is the combined effect of the implementation of the amnesty clause in the Lome Peace Accord at national level by both President Tejan Kabbah shortly before the General elections when it was obvious to him that his chosen candidate Solomon Barewa ( Solo B) of the Sierra Leone Peoples, Party ( SLPP) was about to lose and President Alex Koromah shortly on assuming office in releasing from Pendemba Road Maximum Security Prison thousands of combatants that brought peace to Sierra Leone. The integration of some these combatants into the National Army and Police and the implementation of the recommendation of the widely acclaimed Peace and Reconciliation Commission that was organized after the war, helped in no small way in the national healing that brought peace to the country.
The Special Court for Sierra Leone despite these convictions remains largely unpopular among a large component of the Sierra Leonean population who are alarmed about the colossal sums deployed to secure the conviction of persons they perceived as bringing about the peace and stability they enjoy. Added to their disillusionment is the fact that Chief Hinga Norman the widely revered former Vice Minister of Defence who fought tenaciously against the rebels when President Tejan Kabbah fled to Guinea and Foday Sankoh whose ideology in “Foot Paths to
Democracy” remained popular among the rural and urban poor and students died in prison in circumstances which they can never totally come to terms with. For a majority of Sierra Leoneans, the amount of money spent in conducting these trials should have been used to solve the myriad of development problems that the country is facing as well as to alleviate the pain and suffering of the victims of the unfortunate conflict, most of who still live in abject penury.
The conviction of Charles Taylor for the alleged assistance provided to the RUF for Sierra Leone ignores the fact that the indictment against the leaders of the RUF alleged that they received assistance from a number of regional leaders each with a personal agenda in fueling the conflict that had little or nothing to do with diamonds as alleged in the indictments and found in the judgment. These included Blaise Campaore of Burkina Faso and Colonel Khadafi of Lybia. In this regard, it is informative to know that several conflicts that have afflicted the sub region and beyond were largely inspired by the Liberian and Sierra Leonean conflicts. In the Ivory Coast, some of the combatants that fought or who are fighting in those conflicts were trained or took part in these conflicts.
In the above regard, one can safely state that the ghost of the Sierra Leonean war and the traitorous arrest, indictment and trial of Charles Taylor and the RUF leaders despite the Lome Peace Accord significantly influenced the tactical and strategic decisions that Alasane Ouatarra and Blaise Campoare made during the proxy war to control the soul of Cote D’Ivoire. This was largely responsible for the fact that no peace accord between the belligerents would have worked as they preferred to fight and win at all costs; even it meant mortgaging the sovereignty of the country for that purpose. For them and many more in the continent pointing to the Lome Peace Accord, they surmised that it is a pure waste of precious time to rely on Peace Accords which may not be worth the pieces 0f paper on which they are written and signed.
The trial of Charles Taylor like several ones pending before the ICC was not intended to be in the interest of Africa; let alone Sierra Leone. A primary focus of the initial investigation that led to the creation of the Special Court conducted by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had nothing to do about diamonds or war crimes. Like the case of Saddam Hussien, in which US intervention was largely informed by reliance on forgeries concocted by an exiled political opponent, the initial investigations into the Sierra Leonean Case were initiated based on false information provided to the US authorities that Morris Kallon, Isa Sesay and Charles Taylor had links to Al Qaida which was alleged to have assisted them in their war efforts. When the investigations found no such links, a justification for the investigations had to be found, hence the creation of the Special Court to try these individuals, their role and contribution in the peace process notwithstanding.
The trial and conviction of Charles Taylor has been hailed by supporters of the International Criminal Court and boasted its focus on Africa. Although it deprives Moreno Ocampo the ICC Prosecutor the lime light in his selective crusade to focus prosecutions entirely on the African continent in ways which wrongly portray the continent as the reservoir of international criminality, it has nevertheless provided justification for such humiliating spotlight on this troubled continent.
But the trial and conviction of Charles Taylor comes at a price to international justice in particular and international law in general. A close study of the judgments delivered by the Special Court in the four trials that that it
conducted, portray a failed attempt to develop and fit the facts and the law into varying legal principles and jurisprudence developed in other International Tribunals in the most unprincipled and incoherent manners imaginable. For example, the most ridiculous extension by the Special Court on the RUF of the basic form of criminal liability of Joint Criminal Enterprise introduced into International Criminal Law as a form of individual criminal responsibility in the Tadic Case at the ICTY in which criminal intent ( the mens rea) was no longer found to be an element of individual criminal responsibility was ignored or abandoned in the Taylor Judgment, although the pleadings, the facts, the law and forms of criminal liability were very similar. Taylor thus was convicted on secondary forms of criminal liability, namely aiding and abating making its ridiculous for anyone to request and impose a sentence against him that surpassed that inflicted on primary perpetrators.
In Liberia, the prospects of the conviction of Charles Taylor must have played a role in President Ellen Sirleaf denting the democratic profile she brought to office in resorting to autocratic methods of retaining power in the last election. Her complicity in rendering nugatory the accords that saw Taylor leave power for Nigeria in acceding to pressure from the United States to request Nigeria to hand Charles Taylor to be prosecuted may again lead her to
attempt to influence the poll at the end of her mandate to favour a candidate who will provide her the type of protection that will shield her from Prosecution for the support she admitted providing Charles Taylor during the guerrilla war he waged inside Liberia and then betraying him thereafter. In this regard, the reasons for which she requested a trial in The Hague far from Liberia may not be wished away with the conviction and possible imprisonment of Charles Taylor in England. To her surprise and that of many others, Charles Taylor may continue to influence the politics and policy of Africa, the sub region and Liberia on International Justice for a very long time to come.
Considered separately or in aggregate, far from mobilizing African people and governments and to support international justice, in particular justice at the International Criminal Court where two African Heads of State and prominent political leaders are perceived to have been selectively indicted, the conviction of Charles Taylor will rather radicalize opposition to the ICC. In Kenya, for example, the ICC Prosecutor Moreno Ocampo has been criticized by a significant segment of the population for carrying out a shoddy investigation with a political dent. Many accuse him of acting as if Kenya has surrendered its sovereignty to the ICC and that the entire process has been politicized.
It is due to the destabilizing effect of the ICC process and the abrasive approach of its Chief Prosecutor towards the investigations and statements made by him concerning matters of national sovereignty in Kenya and its potential for destabilizing a major African Nation at war in a volatile sub region that has motivated the East African Community Heads of State to follow on the heels of the African Union in urging that the treaty of the East Africa Community be revised to give the East Africa Court of Justice, criminal jurisdiction to try the Kenya Case rather than the ICC. The African Union has expressed its radical opposition to the indictment of President Bashir at the ICC and most of its members have publicly declared that they will not co-operate with the ICC in executing its warrant against the Sudanese President. Uganda on its part took the same position on the arrest and handing over of its citizens, including Joseph Kony of the Lord’s Resistance Army to the ICC preferring to try them at a Special Division of the High Court of Uganda established for that purpose.
The ICC has so far adopted an inconsistent and unprincipled position in respect of the principle of complementarity enshrined in article 17 of its Statute in favour of the State Parties in whose territory crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court might have been perpetrated. In the case of Libya which neither has an effective government nor a functional judicial system, Mr. Ocampo supported by the super powers and NATO member states that might have perpetrated war crimes and crimes against humanity in the executing of the so-called responsibility to protect mandate of the Security Council has all long been willing to apply the principle of complementarity in favour of the so-called National Council of Lybia to investigate and prosecute alleged crimes perpetrated in its territory, in particular the trial of Seif Islam who is still in the custody of tribal forces.
Given that the so-called National Council and the intervening states bear the greatest responsibility for international crimes perpetrated by rebels who were under their mandate, to defer to National Council for Lybia to investigate these alleged crimes is like asking it to investigate itself and its accomplices and criminal bands under its effective command. The murder of Khadafi and alleged Black African Mercenaries allegedly perpetrated by rebel forces under the command of the National Council and Tribal Militias deserve to be investigated and prosecuted by the ICC if it still has a modicum of respect and independence after all prisoners of war are in the hands enemy power, but not of individual or military units who captured them. It is trite law, that irrespective of the individual responsibilities that may exist, the Detaining Power is responsible for the treatment given them.
This principle of international law is applicable to Libya and Ivory Coast where the French Army and the so-called Patriotic Forces allied to Alassane Ouattara were proximate to and conducted armed combat in areas in which alleged rebel units close to them perpetrated egregious violations and international crimes against soldiers hors de combat, a civilian population or civilians not taking part in the armed conflict. However, but for the orders handed down by the Pre-trial Chamber, the Chief Prosecutor evinced every effort to limit his investigation of the Ivorian Case to the arrest, humiliation and indictment of President Gbagbo and the potential indictment of his wife and people close to him while sparing Alasane Ouatarra, the Warlord Soro and others who perpetrated crimes against humanity on a wide and systematic scale in the North and areas of Abidjan and acts of documented Genocide in the West.
In the Kenyan Case, supported by the USA and Britain, the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC has persistently taken the position that Kenya does not have a functional judiciary capable of trying the four Kenyans against whom charges were confirmed and they committed to trial. Paradoxically, the US and Great Britain have consistently called on Kenya to try pirates who have rendered international sea navigation in the Indian Ocean almost impossible although these are international crimes as well. This unprincipled position towards the same country and its judicial and political institutions can only be motivated by political motives. And these political motives cannot be in the best interest of the country concerned.
Under the ICC statute, the Office of the Prosecutor is supposed to act independently in conducting investigations. That independence has so far not been demonstrated in the selective manner in which the Prosecutor has focused on Africa since the ICC was created. The ICC has conducted preliminary investigations on cases in Palestine, Sri Lanka, Latin America, Europe and Asia but has been shy to even submit application
before the Pre-trial Chamber for permission to investigate. In the case of Libya, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo, based essentially on human reports and information obtained through intermediaries .He filed applications to intervene in these African Internal Conflicts because it was convenient for him to do or because it served the interests of super powers as critics have alleged. Interestingly, he has evinced little efforts to debunk his critics and rather persists in perpetuating the selective potentially destabilizing involvement in African internal conflicts.
This conduct has given the ICC and international justice a bad name and reputation on a continent which otherwise overwhelmingly supported the creation of this court and desperately needs it in its fights against impunity which for half a century has provided neo-colonial dictatorial agents the ammunition to perpetrate their rule on the blood of the impoverish masses of this troubled continent.
Africa therefore deserves an International system of justice that is just, equitable, credible and not the tools of neo-colonial imposition that presently passes for International Criminal Courts. For these reasons, a judgment rendered against Charles Taylor which should have been hailed throughout the continent is regrettably seen from the above perspective and this is a setback in the desired fight against impunity and thus very sad indeed.
* Chief Charles A. Taku, a Traditional Ruler and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Cameroon, is a Counsel at the ICC and a Lead Counsel at the UNICTR, and at the Special Court for Sierra Leone
The Global Effort to End Neglected Tropical Diseases
May 12, 2012 | 0 Comments
By Dr. Neeraj Mistry*
Managing Director of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases
Imagine feeling as though you have just donated a pint or two of blood, every day for the rest of your life. Or that you are slowly losing your eyesight because your eyelashes are curling inward and scratching your corneas with every blink. What would it feel like to go through life with limbs so swollen that you are no longer able to use them?
For millions of people living in Africa and more than a billion people worldwide (including 500 million children), these symptoms are part of their everyday reality. Hookworm, trachoma, elephantiasis, roundworm, whip worm, snail fever, and river blindness are seven parasitic and bacterial infections called Neglected Tropical Diseases — or NTDs, that together have a higher health burden on the world’s poor than malaria and tuberculosis.
NTDs are contracted through every day activates such as gathering food, doing laundry or even drinking water. They are a major reason why families in Africa, Latin America and South Asia cannot escape poverty, since they keep children from going to school and parents from working.
At the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, an initiative of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, our mission is to raise the awareness, funds and political will needed to control and ultimately eliminate these devastating diseases. Working with international partners at the highest levels of government, business and society, we are breaking down the logistical and financial barriers to deliver existing NTD treatments to impacted communities around the world.
The good news is that the solution is actually very simple and one of the most cost-effective public health models available. For about 50 cents, we can provide one person with the pills to treat and protect them against all seven major NTDs for an entire year. Pharmaceutical companies donate the pills and we use an integrated approach that treats multiple diseases at once, also known as a mass drug administration (MDA). This means the only real treatment cost is delivery—allowing us to treat large groups for a minimal price.
Consider the story of Georgette, a woman who lives in Rutoke, Burundi. Not long ago, her five children were ill with intestinal worms, parasites that fed on the insides of their bodies and caused swollen bellies, nausea, and weakness. Georgette was unable to help her children as they became so sick that they frequently vomited worms.
But Georgette and her children were able to take advantage of a mass drug administration (MDA) program in their community. Her children received a simple package of pills that helped them feel better, regain their strength, and return to school.
In Africa, we are making great strides to help the millions of families like Georgette’s who suffer from NTDS. In March of this year, Burundi became the first francophone country to launch a national plan to combat NTDs. Burundi made its announcement just a few months after Kenya became the very first country in Africa to produce a comprehensive five-year plan to eliminate NTDs.
Leaders in Africa have also shown their support for eliminating NTDs. The Honorable John A. Kufuor, president of Ghana from 2001-2009, was recently appointed our NTD Special Envoy. Known globally for his work to improve childhood nutrition through school feeding programs, Mr. Kufuor will travel internationally to educate donor
governments on the global NTD burden and the impact of treatment and research and encourage them to incorporate NTD control into existing global health or cross-sectoral development programs.
Finally, in January 2012, the Global Network launched the first-ever public awareness campaign focused on NTDs. Called END7, the campaign relies heavily on social media, not only to educate the general public about these diseases, but also to provide a two-way platform for engagement, transforming our audience from followers to a constituency that is also part of the solution.
As awareness and momentum continue to grow among global political and philanthropic leaders, national governments and the general public, I am confident we will meet the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2020 targets for NTD control and elimination.
There is still much work left to be done, but together, we can lift a billion people out of poverty and prevent needless suffering among future generations.
*Dr Mistry is Managing Director of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases
To learn more or to get involved, visit www.end7.org
Liberalism: The Only Credible Alternative For Africa
February 21, 2012 | 0 Comments
By Mamadou Koulibaly*
We often hear Intellectuals speak of the problem of poverty which continues to haunt Africa after more than half a century of independence. Discussions are passionate and more and more Africans are speaking out and rebelling, while others are proposing solutions. As concerns problems, everybody is unanimous: Africa is still suffering today from a great domination by the former colonial powers and in the French speaking zones comprising former French colonies, the domination is even more glaring with the currency (cfa franc) ,military bases, the so called French-African networks which include protected multi-national corporations .Domination accepted and even supported by easily manipulated or gullible African leaders. Consequently, Africans are held in captivity both by a system of world domination as well as by their own leaders. This is a well established fact.Generally; capitalism, globalization, and neo-liberalism are mostly responsible for this.
Opinions differ as concerns the solutions most frequently proposed. Some people think that it would be necessary that the rich countries should finance Africa in order to enable her come out of poverty, while others say that solutions should rather come from Africa herself. Leaders this school of thought believes should be less corrupt and more responsible in supporting the development of their countries through assistance and investments and support programmes which could create jobs and resist big multi-national corporations. In addition to these proposals, there are numerous local and international associations, international institutions specialized ministeries, writers, and scholars fighting for human rights and freedom through fiery written works, passionate seminars, and various support programs with huge budgets. The background thus set requires that some contradictions be pointed out and new proposals for solutions made.
First ambiguity, some people expect assistance from the international community whereas since independence, these assistance programmes have not brought progress and worse of all there have proven to be part of the domination strategy of the great powers of the African continent. The solution proposed is aimed at making the problem worse rather than solving it. In addition, this humanistic vision of the world is totally at odds with imperialistic realities which control the world since the mist of time. A country or group of countries does not have the inclination of helping the development of another.
Second ambiguity, many are those who expect African countries to effectively take control of the development of the continent through a well planned pattern. However, the corruption of these leaders is part of the problems identified as being the cause of the poverty of the people. Since it is known that a monopoly cannot exist when it is not protected by the elite in power, we can understand the perversity of their implication, since for the most part; they support and maintain foreign domination. This is either for financial interest, the fear of being overthrown, or still for the most zealous, for the pleasure and admiration or simply due to inferiority complex which makes them try to make amends to the other without attempting to position themselves. Fifty years in power that led African countries to the top of the list of failed states(Fund for peace report) is a sign of the inability of these leaders to surpass themselves and it seems quite unwise to continue to look up to them for solutions for a better future. The question is simple: since the state is part of the problem, why use it as a solution?
Finally, the other striking ambiguity is that which consists in defending freedoms while referring to them as been responsible for the problems destroying the continent. Are there good and bad freedoms? Professor Pascal Salin a distinguished liberal reminds us in his book “Liberalism” that” the liberal ideology is in favor of individual freedom in all areas ,precisely because a person cannot cut himself or herself into pieces ,with one part economic, another social or one part family”.
The rejection of liberalism is a great misunderstanding that must certainly be cleared up. Infact, it is the only thing that can tackle in a therapeutic way the problems that the continent is facing. It alone enables the consolidation of a of a prosperous economy because it frees and stimulates the creative power of human beings. Further more in many respects, liberalism would enable a return to the African roots since traditions depended on spontaneous organization of societies with wise mediators. As for free trade which frightens so much, it existed in the past and was nothing more than caravans which crossed the desert to exchange products with a currency free of state regulations and depended only on human activity, on sale of products whose degree of scarcity created value.
Given that property is the base of progress throughout the world, we should be aiming at a society where people can easily become owners and where they are thus responsible and no longer subjected to authoritarian decisions of the state. Liberalism is the most efficient system to enable people to use their property rights whether they are rich or poor.
The globalization defended by the liberals is the international aspect of freedom. Far from being the shapeless dominating monster, it is the fruit of exchange for millions of people among themselves. This big competitive market enables quality improvement ,price reduction and innovation incentive for producers .As for monopoly ,it is not the fruit of globalization ,rather, it is a product purely created and protected by the states that share the benefits of these friendly companies . He who pays the bills is the consumer, prisoner of choices of a powerful state. Powerful in the sense that it takes the liberty of doing everything. Liberal policies, on the contrary, would enable all Africans to develop their personal projects, save and invest. A poor country cannot afford to waste its resources whereas, in Africa, it can be seen that numerous obstacles delay the people and choke them. That is the case with excessive and complex taxes and also heavy and complicated regulations which block development. There are expensive, waste precious time and encourage corruption for, one ends up slipping a bill under the table in order to unblock a file. This does not mean that the liberal refuses all regulations. Liberalism is the exercise of freedom within a legal framework that enables the protection of people’s property as well as their relations amongst themselves.
Every African should have their chance. Powerful states, those where the political leaders have too much power, forget the poor who would be able to develop themselves if they were freed. Everybody should have the right to participate in development. It is this humanistic vision that is important. The leaders of powerful states are immoral, for they refuse this from their people. If they are incapable now, it is simply because there are too many laws and constraints on them. Consequently, in order to be logical in the process, in order to effectively solve the various problems of Africa, it is absolutely urgent to liberalize the economies. The continent is the youngest in the world. Imagine for one moment the impact that this liberated youth would have in the continent!
Today in their international relations, the states are limited to a few people and often, one only in the first place, a hyper President. The domination by foreign powers is facilitated by this personal configuration of power. What would happen if power were not exclusively in the hands of these people? External sovereignty can be obtained only through the freedom of the people. The African should first of all obtain his sovereignty from his own state. It is at the second level that the sovereignty of the state shall precede to the international stage. Africans should therefore understand that liberalism is the only worthy and credible alternative for Africa.
Africa’s Irrepressible March To Freedom
February 21, 2012 | 0 Comments
By Mamadou Koulibaly *
There were at least twelve Presidential elections in Africa in the year 2011 which has just ended. This year 2012, seven countries are preparing to hold the same type of elections plus six legislatives which will all take place within the context of the risk of violence. Infact, these elections follow each other in quick succession with the same degree of violence and consequently have not clearly indicated that that there can lead to prosperity, stability, and peace. Rather, on the contrary, the process of democratic transitions initiated in the 90s has not yet been completed. Quite often; these transitions are regularly prolonged, thus excluding the people’s choice.
After forty years of one party system, the African political life stumbled on a multi-party system which has demonstrated its limits. All this is taking place at an alarming continuity, and the elite who in the past fought tirelessly for political freedoms have been unable to lead their states to democracy.Evidently, multi-partism is not the only way to democracy. Every election on the continent bears testimony to this. Infact, after sponsoring the liberation of their countries from the colonial yoke, the African single parties forgot that of the people. Worst of still, they preferred to perpetrate alienating domination with one major change: the master was no longer the white or European colonial master. Henceforth, he had the local colour.
Thus the people were maintained in the same servitude or bondage without any right, only jailers had changed. More than fifty years of independence have brought no change to the plight of Africans. Consequently neither independence nor multi-partism had the better of the established fact. Africans remain in chains and their freedom is still held hostage.
Finally multi-partism has enabled the freeing of politicians who they have the liberty to form their political parties and compete one another in order to accede to the power of patrimonial control of the state and its power. The political freedoms thus acquired have had an impact on the liberation of the people who remain subjected to the same exploitation .Despite the multipartism,which would have created a counter -power ,we see that the land which before colonization belonged to the people ,belonged to inhabitants, remains state property without any person opposing dispossession. The land remains state property and the rural land certificates have not been established and given to farmers who have always had the customary right over the land.
African integration remains fragile, even inexistent for the every country prefers to retain its property rights its enclosure and its content. Worst again, the casualty of multi-partism is heavy in human life if we count the number of deaths resulting from the internal conflicts caused by political violence. Africa remains the most violent continent and according to a recent official from the American State Department,16 African countries including my country Cote d’Ivoire are classified among the 32 most dangerous countries in the world. Consequently, given this disastrous balance sheet, this decade should be one of the liberation of the liberation of the people and essentially that of the advance of economic freedom. Concretely, economic freedom should break down the barrier which constitutes the wall of the enclosure in order to free the framework for contracts, private property rights, free trade, price freedom, free enterprise, in all sectors and areas and the opening up of markets to the entire world. Thus, after political freedoms obtained through multi-partism, it is imperative to fight for the growth of economic freedom.
Globalization requires that African markets be opened in order to encourage African manufacturers as well as direct foreign private investment. The freedoms in question are those that are governed by free agreements and transparent contracts and should in no way give room to mutual arrangements. The freedom concerned requires that prices and revenues should be in flexible and stable currencies. Rural land certificates should be distributed immediately and at reasonable costs so as to put an end to the system of land confiscation by African governments who, for the most part themselves have been declared failures. The aim is to reverse the situation. Instead of governments controlling the people, their activities should be the reverse. The people who have become private property owners, entrepreneurs, and businessmen should control the governments and the game of multi-partism so as to constitute counter-power required for the good functioning of democracy. It is even the principle of the irresponsibility of the political elite which shall thus be corrected. Statesmen would evidently become servants instead of the masters. In this regard, the parliamentary system with a one round majority ballot is a more suitable context for the promotion of economic freedoms and the control of governments than the powerful presidential systems that we currently have in most African countries.
A recent study carried out by “Audace Institute Afrique” comparing the parliamentary and presidential systems in Africa has shown ,however that in the parliamentary systems on the continent, not only is the economic freedom more advanced, but the government is better, the per capita income is higher, as well as the education and literacy percentages of health care. Furthermore, these countries are more stable politically and have experienced fewer conflicts.
Economic freedom would enable us to start questioning effectively the colonial pact in the African countries of the French zone. It is the period for auditing the operating accounts and questioning the current status of BCEAO (Central Bank of West African States) and BEAC( Bank of Central African States). It is time to go to the International Court of Justice at the Hague to complain that France signatory of the Franco-African Cooperation Agreements no longer fulfills her contractual obligations and has been since 1993 when she unilaterally decided to abandon the convertibility ,of the CFA Franc and that since the entry into force of the Euro, the French Franc no longer exists, that since January 2012, the weight of the public debt and the size of the budgetary deficit of France have made her lose the quality of her signature on the world financial market.
Today the Vienna Convention on the treaty rights which came into force in January 1980 , in its section 62 ,gives the legal means to African countries to call to question leonine ,protectionist, and impoverishing agreements they entered when their people were still in colonial arrangements or enclosures. So we do not need war and we do not need additional armed conflicts. Africa can enjoy the benefits of globalization only by starting to free its people from the yoke of African countries in the first place. They are the new states built on new moral, economic and political foundations that will start the process of breaking the protectionist, degrading, humiliating and ineffective yokes with the same foreign partners. The end of enclosures will be the beginning of progress, peace, and prosperity. All the same, it would be necessary to attempt to come out of the captivity of enclosures constructed by African countries in order to keep their people in them. Only a strong and audacious civil society ready to embark on solid reforms can break down these barriers.