UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – Rwanda on Monday hit out at the West’s “wagging finger” on war crimes as it blocked mention of the International Criminal Court in a UN Security Council statement.
Britain, France and other court members represented on the 15-member panel all stressed the role of the ICC however in a council meeting on preventing conflict in Africa.
“Rather than delivering justice and preventing impunity, the practice is that the International Criminal Court has shown itself subject to political manipulation,” Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo told the council after refusing to let the court be named in the statement.
The court was “skewed”, the minister later told reporters. “We believe that the time for Africa to be subjected to a wagging finger, a punishing finger from the West is over.
“We think that it is time for Africa and its partners in the north to really have a serious discussion about international justice,” she added.
Rwanda is a longstanding critic of the ICC and the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda that handled major cases after the country’s 1994 genocide. It organized Monday’s meeting as council president for April.
The statement released at the end, which was under negotiation right until the last minute, stressed only the need to “prosecute persons responsible for war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity or other serious violations of international humanitarian law,” without naming any court or system.
“We regret the absence of a reference to the ICC,” said France’s UN ambassador Gerard Araud. “The International Criminal Court and other regional tribunals are vital to ending impunity,” added his British counterpart Mark Lyall Grant.
The diplomatic storm arose only days after the United States boycotted a UN General Assembly debate where Serbia’s president launched a fierce attack on international war crimes courts.