On March 17 Karim Khan, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), announced the formal warrant of arrest for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
He accused the Russian President of “unlawful deportation” of Ukrainian children to a “network of camps” throughout the Russian Federation during the ongoing war.
The irony, perhaps unintended, is that Khan’s contentious move coincided with the 20th anniversary of the US-led illegal invasion of Iraq. In 2003, then US President George W Bush cobbled together a so-called “Coalition of the Willing” to invade Iraq.
The US was accusing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein of possessing “Weapons of Mass Destruction”. The UK, then led then by Labour Party Prime Minister Tony Blair, was the second-in-charge of the notorious mission. A few other inconsequential countries not worth mentioning also joined the US-led invasion. Within days on raining indiscriminate bombs on Iraq in what the imbedded Press approvingly described as “shock and awe”, Saddam Hussein was cornered and killed in scenes preceded by the very public “humiliation” of the thus far saluted statue of the Iraqi leader.
Iraq capitulated to the US firepower without offering any of the promised resistance. However, the bombshell was about to explode: There were no “Weapons of Mass Destruction” found! Any consequences? You bet – none whatsoever! Later, when pressed from a moral point of view about the load of lies that laced the pretext to invade a sovereign state of Iraq, Blair repeated with a monotonous regularity that “the world is a better place without Saddam”. I thought then, and still now: how sadistic could one be?
I raise the ICC’s Chief Prosecutor Khan’s ironic pursuit of selective justice in a world order characterised by the domineering, self-serving unipolar powers led by the US and its allies. In almost every corner of the world there exists a US military base. This unwarranted establishment of military proximity to the peaceful continents of the world continues unabated, aided by the status of the US as the world’s only remaining superpower since the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union at the turn of the 90’s, a move that emboldened NATO’s provocative expansion eastward to Russia’s doorstep.
When the ICC was founded back in 1998 – four years before it handled its first ever case after the Rome Statute was ratified by at least 60 countries – the unsuspecting nations of the world thought it would dispense justice under international law without fear or favour. It was dubbed “the court of last resort” by its founders. But, alas! That was not to be. Instead, it has gained reputation as a manipulated court of mischief-making, a noble tool turned into the haven for nefarious activities of shameless schemers.
The axiomatic Bush/Blair brothers-in-arms pact serves as a living proof of the double standards of the ICC as clearly characterised by a blatant pro-West bias. The US is not a signatory to the Rome Statute and does not recognise whatever shred of authority the ICC may claim to have if that “authority” gets directed against Washington. Threats of US sanctions against any ICC staff member – from judges, prosecutors, investigators or the lowest-ranking employee who engages in any probe into the US activities anywhere in the world remain on a permanent standby.
In a familiar rage, the US also threatened to withdraw its troops from the UN peacekeeping forces throughout the world unless its citizens – “both military and civilian” – were exempted from prosecution by the ICC. This wish was granted, albeit unwritten.
The US was clear then, and remains clear today, that the ICC should not, and does not possess any jurisdiction over the citizens of the US who are strewn across the globe on dubious missions.
How ironic, therefore – perhaps rich, that Washington delights in encouraging the ICC to “arrest” President Putin, whose country is also not a signatory to the Rome Statute? For the uninitiated, two other geopolitical heavyweights in China and India are also not members of the ICC. To emulate the US, non-signatories to the ICC should also be allowed to hide behind the phrase: “Nothing about us, without us.”
Throughout its years of chequered existence, the ICC has stood accused of bias against weaker targets particularly in Africa following a sickening trend of pursuing mainly African nationals for alleged wrong-doing.
The antics of the ICC’s chief prosecutor Khan do not help the situation. Instead, they make matters worse by lifting a veil of secrecy behind the abominable art of conniving.
Khan recently headlined a “United for Justice” conference held in Lviv, Ukraine. Since the war broke out in February 2022 Khan has visited Ukraine at least four times, looking at only one side of the conflict.
There, he was briefed by the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has campaigned for the arrest of President Putin on a litany of “war crimes” charges. The Lviv conference was organised by the Zelensky administration in an effort to mobilise the Global North against Russia and President Putin, specifically.
Whilst in Lviv, Khan is said to have also “conferred” with the US Attorney-General, Merrick Garland, who attended the conference to shore up support and unity sought by the Biden administration to haul President Putin before an international war crimes tribunal.
Addressing the conference, Khan is quoted as saying: “We have an affinity to legality. We have an affinity and commitment to the rule of law.” Khan also issued a qualifier, saying: “Of course the prosecutor of the ICC does not, whatever affection and regard I may have for my dear friends in Ukraine – has no special affinity to any particular country. We’re not a party to any hostilities.” Had Shakespeare been observing these shenanigans unfold, he would have probably laughed at the bluff and proclaimed: “By their actions shall ye judge them.”
This is the same Western-aligned Khan who has curiously stalled the ICC’s probe against apartheid Israel, a close ally of the US, the EU and NATO.
Khan’s inexplicable delay into the Israel’s well-documented “crimes against humanity” has frustrated dozens of human rights lawyers who represent the victims of grisly violence particularly in the permanently besieged Gaza Strip, where the Palestinian liberation group Hamas is hugely popular.
Khan also formally dropped the ICC’s case against the US military for its questionable activities that include indiscriminate bombings and murder in Afghanistan. The US camped for a full 20 years in the country’s longest war during which they deposed the ruling Taliban from power and chased them around their sprawling Asian country, to no avail. The Taliban is back in power in their land, a return to power that featured secret negotiations with the US army to commit both sides to a truce whilst the US soldiers left the invaded country huffing and puffing in unprecedented haste.
There are way too many examples of the ICC’s double-standards. Sadly, the US is ubiquitous in all instances. Not only does the US use numerous military bases that it builds in virtually every corner of the world to enforce its will, it also undertakes a unilateral imposition of economic sanctions against its geopolitical adversaries.
What really is mind-boggling is the US “authority” to compel other states to obey their rules of engagement and to further punish any dissenting sovereign state through sheer military intervention or coercive economic sanctions.
Examples of the transgressions of international law by the US are public knowledge. They include a continuous blockade of Cuba for over sixty years, a similar blockade of Venezuela in an effort to overthrow the government of Nicolas Maduro and effect regime-change, the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003, Barrack Obama’s administration’s lead role in the fanning of a civil war in Libya that included the rape and murder of Colonel Muamar Gaddafi, among many examples.
Why is chief prosecutor Khan et al dead quiet amidst such glaring transgressions of international law?
For as long as Khan and the ICC continue to raise millions of dollars from NATO states, the ICC’s legal independence will remain in jeopardy. The crafters of the following proverb were spot on: “He, who pays the piper, calls the tune.” Paraphrased, the ICC cannot bite the hand that feed them. This is a legal conundrum right there: How can Khan and the ICC be expected to dispense of justice without fear or favour when their wages and operational budget is sourced from elsewhere?
The days of a unipolar world order are numbered. The Global South is rising against international tyranny and diplomatic gangsterism. The reform of the UN and its security council can no longer be removed from the agenda by the hunt-in-packs states of the Global North. Geopolitics will never be the same, thanks largely to the rapid rise of China and the reawakening of the so-called smaller states. Soon, the ICC will itself be in the dock of global public opinion. Under the present circumstances, the ICC is part of our geopolitical problems, not a solution.
Sad, but true.