AA Edit | ICC acts, but it may be futile

The Asian Age.

Opinion, Edit

Despite its mandate, the International Criminal Court struggles to arrest heads of state implicated in conflicts.

The International Criminal Court's pursuit of justice in the Gaza War raises questions about the effectiveness of international legal mechanisms. (Image: Twitter)

What powers does an international organisation of countries like the United Nations have to stop wars? None apparently, considering that conflicts go on while the UN faces grave limitations in terms of its Security Council structure with veto power vested in its permanent members.

To the credit of the International Criminal Court, which derives its power from the Rome statute of 2002 and to which about 105 countries are signatories, it not only has the power to prosecute individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide but also attempts to use it.

Its chief prosecutor’s latest attempt to seek arrest warrants for Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu and his defence minister Yoav Gallant and three Hamas members is a sign that at least someone is prepared to stand up and point out what could be war crimes committed in the Gaza war.

The ICC had also put out a warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for committing the war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russian Federation territory. The challenge, however, lies in effecting such arrests of heads of state, which has thus far proved impossible.

The courts too are helpless to try and rein in those who wage wars that are destructive to humanity and, perhaps, productive, and profitable only for the military-industrial complex and its nexus with governments.

The quixotic equivalence seen in ICC lumping Israel and Hamas, whose military wing is more akin to a terrorist network, is what has provoked outrage in Israel and the US, which have denounced it. The ICC efforts will come to nought as Israel is not even a signatory and Hamas cannot even be considered eligible to be a party to an international forum.

The brave tokenism to be seen in ICC action might come in for praise from those who seek global peace and who constitute a majority of the world’s eight-billion plus population. Their leaders who wage wars are to be blamed for the conflict-ridden world we live in even as starvation of a whole population becomes a weapon of war, even if it is only in retaliation to the savagery of Hamas’ attack.

Curiously, it is South Africa, a nation that may have been guilty in history of waging a war against its own people of colour through apartheid, which set the ball rolling in the ICC on Gaza. But, as their general Jan Smuts who was in the Boer War said, “The dogs may bark but the caravan rolls on.” Sadly, so do the Gaza and Ukraine wars in the modern world.