It is beyond reprehensible when you discover that people who have put up an air of morality and pointed damning fingers at others, staring down their noses in condemnation of their actions, turn out to be worse off than the victims of their castigation.
Hearing world powers and leading organisations describe developing countries and institutions as backward, primitive, and immoral makes you wonder just how organised and righteous they are. But in truth, they are no worse than the uncivilised nations they ridicule, because, by our very nature, we are the same. No amount of denial or pretentious behaviour can take this away.
While the United States and its leading agencies shamelessly sit on the table of the hypocrites, the greatest hypocrisy that many clear-thinking individuals have been unfortunate enough to experience is that of the International Criminal Court.
Over a week ago, the ICC issued a warrant of arrest for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin over war crimes connected to the abduction and deportation of thousands of Ukrainian children since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A lot of global cheers followed the declaration, with the western media not sparing any effort in announcing that the ICC had done something people had waited tirelessly for.
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Diplomats and other international officials have described ICC’s move as the beginning of the process of accountability, even as the ICC boasts that ‘the public awareness of the warrants may contribute to the prevention of the further commission of crimes.’
Don’t get it twisted, declaring that a leader of one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council should be arrested over war crimes is a move that takes a lot of balls and guts. Also, Putin deserves the call because the entire world has seen the evils perpetrated by Russia since February 2022.
Putin has committed all manner of atrocities against the Ukrainian people and that is not under dispute. However, a closer look at the ICC’s warrant will expose you to the hypocrisy and futility of the action.
The futility of the warrant is glaring enough for the world to see. The ICC’s move isn’t worth anything but a symbolic statement and an echo in the wind because Moscow does not subscribe to extraditing its citizens, let alone, its President. Russia also has no regard or recognition for the jurisdiction of the ICC. So, how do you get cooperation from a party that neither regards nor recognises you? That’s left for the ICC to think about.
Now, let’s talk about the shameless hypocrisy that the rest of the world seems to be looking away from, for whatever reason.
Before Putin, several world leaders have perpetrated actions that warranted an arrest. However, their actions seem to have passed unnoticed or swept under the carpet by the ICC. By many standards, leaders of Israel, Britain, Australia, and even the United States ought to have been charged with war crimes a long time ago.
Perhaps, while the world watched, the ICC had periodically lost its sight and hearing when Israeli soldiers and Prime ministers continued to make Palestinian citizens, especially women and children a part of their war infrastructure in Gaza, West Bank, Lebanon, and beyond Jerusalem for the past generations. Or maybe we have all forgotten the definition of war crimes.
Should we talk about the fact that an elite Australian soldier brutally killed scores of Afghan civilians, and sliced the throats of children in a devilish, ritual initiation action that shook the world, but the ICC’s silence was as loud as the global outcry? Or maybe Britain’s invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq followed by the destruction of cities, killing and maiming of innocents, and even the displacement of survivors? Perhaps the ICC fell short of paper and pen to put together the warrant of arrest.
Even if this was the case, the blatant and unrepentant actions of American presidents and soldiers who took wars to different continents with little or no triggers, but with an intent to torture, abduct, and covet resources, people, and information is one that the ICC should never have missed.
So, isn’t it shameful and hypocritical that the same ICC that turned its face away from tons of war crimes around the world chose to make a scapegoat of Putin? Well, it had to be someone, and you could say that Putin was asking for it, with all his delirious actions in the past months. However, would the countries that have applauded the ICC’s move do any better than Russia if the arrest warrant was declared in their name?
Take the US for instance; it was quick to applaud the ICC for charging Russia with war crimes. But it was ready, fangs bared, to tear the same ICC apart when investigations started into American war crimes committed in Afghanistan. Shameless in his hypocrisy, US President Joe Biden spoke from both sides of his mouth when he welcomed the judgment of the ICC, saying it was ‘justified’.
However, in the very same speech, Biden revealed to whoever was interested in hearing, and even those that weren’t interested, that the US does not recognise the jurisdiction of the ICC.
In September 2020, the US tagged the ICC “broken and corrupted” before the world because the court moved to investigate possible war crimes in Afghanistan, which would have exposed the illegal and human behaviour of American soldiers. The same thing happened in March 2021 when US Secretary of State Antony Blinken went for the jugular of the ICC prosecutor who opened an investigation into the Palestinian war situation. Blinken was vocal about his statement that the ICC lacks jurisdiction over the Palestinian case.
While the US and its leaders have proven that they are not averse to hypocrisy, shamelessness, and pointing their crime-stained fingers at other countries, the ICC has disappointed everyone who thought it had indeed stood for justice, fairness, and equity without recourse to status or world power.
The ICC must see this move to arrest Putin as the first in the long list of warrants it ought to release if it wants to keep the cheers rolling it. Otherwise, it will be kicked to the curb by more countries until its laws, dictates, and pronunciations become worthless and weightless.