Kenya’s UN envoy launches stinging attack on ICC
Ambassador Macharia Kamau did not name those countries in a 15-minute speech to the UN General Assembly on Thursday, but said they possess great wealth and power “mostly born of imperialist and colonial adventure.”
“The agenda of this group of countries is, to us, very shameless,” he told the body that includes all 193 UN member-states.
Ambassador Kamau did not explicitly mention the ICC’s cases against President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto, but he said the court is engaged in “relentless pursuit” and exhibits “a singular, myopic obsession with African situations.”
After six years as “a situation country,” the envoy continued, Kenya recognises that the practices of the ICC and its prosecutor “can be severely disruptive and even detrimental to the process of social and political progress, healing and the promotion of peace and security.”
The court acts as “a hindrance and a stumbling block” to the Kenyan people’s aspirations for reconciliation, he said.
It was not the first time that Ambassador Kamau had made strongly critical remarks at a UN forum reviewing the ICC’s performance.
In a speech a year ago following the Security Council’s rejection of Kenya’s bid to have the Kenyatta and Ruto cases deferred, the envoy said “reason and the law have been thrown out the window; fear and distrust have been allowed to prevail.”
The Kenyan representative was on Thursday, speaking at a General Assembly session convened to consider the ICC’s latest report on its work.
Ambassador Kamau said it tells “a sad and disheartening story of low ambition, poor execution and little success.”
He further described the ICC report as “a lame accounting of institutional failure of historic proportions.”
He noted that in a world “consumed by violence and devastating conflict,” the court has handed down only one judgment and has rendered representation for only about 8000 victims in its first decade of operation.
“Clearly, something is deeply wrong,” Ambassador Kamau told the assembly.
“Something radical and urgent must be done if the court is to stand any chance of long-term survival as a viable and credible international institution.”
“One of first things this court must do,” he suggested, is to “unshackle itself from a pernicious group of countries that have hijacked its operational mandate and created a distorted institution that now represents the moral, ethical and, most disturbingly, the political values of a group of countries.”
These ICC member-states also engage in “insidious manipulation of third-party actors, particularly civil society organisations as interlocutors of the court,” he declared.
Ambassador Kamau said it is time to revisit the Rome Statute, the legal instrument that established the court.
Kenya intends to offer several amendments to the Rome Statute at a meeting in New York in December of the 122 countries that are parties to the ICC.
Kenya has an obligation to take such action, Ambassador Kamau said, because “acceptance of the status quo will only undermine the legitimacy of the court and its core mandate, including the fight against impunity.”
As it currently operates, he added, the ICC “does a great disservice to the victims in whose names the proceedings continue to be perpetuated.” The court’s behaviour “also violates the rights of accused,” Ambassador Kamau contended.
Speaking prior to the Kenyan envoy, Nigeria’s delegate to the General Assembly, Tiwatope Adeleye Elias-Fatile, praised Kenya’s interactions with the ICC.
He said President Kenyatta had “at great personal risk” appeared before the court in The Hague in October as a private citizen.
With the court having “failed to establish a case” against the Kenyan leader, it is regrettable that the charges have not been dismissed, Ambassador Elias-Fatile said in his speech.
“We call on the court to show more respect for African leaders,” he added.