I am heading to Malawi for a week and I am pushing to get some things accomplished before I go.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe run-off election due to take place tomorrow, June 27, 2008, yet the winner of the first round of elections has pulled out due to the level of violence in the country, I read this article and it really made me think twice about the 'World Order' that the west seems to be pushing for. How does someone like Mugabe view the efforts?
Is it a matter of suffering a bit now for a good future, or is it idealism that will never bare fruition?
Africa's unjust deserts; The world has spent billions in its attempt to punish those who have perpetrated horrendous crimes against their fellow Africans. But is this effort paying off? Globe and Mail correspondent Stephanie Nolen finds that not only is international justice a Catch-22, prompting unwanted leaders to cling to power, the redress it offers isn't even what the people really want
The Globe and Mail
Sat 14 Jun 2008
Byline: Stephanie Nolen
JOHANNESBURG -- the first, electric days after Robert Mugabe lost the opening round of Zimbabwe's presidential election, it seemed as though he might simply accept defeat and step down. His family and closest advisers were telling him that, after 28 years in office, it was time to go. He opened secret negotiations with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on a deal that would guarantee his party a share of power, provide him with a peaceful retirement and, crucially, make him immune to prosecution for crimes committed during his long and troubled tenure.
The MDC was amenable, and a tentative optimism took hold of Zimbabwe. But then, six days after the March 29 vote, Mr. Mugabe emerged from a long meeting with his "politburo" in Harare, vowing to fight a run-off election and saying he'd soon be sworn in for a sixth straight term.
Call it the Charles Taylor Effect.
Over the next few weeks, the story of Mr. Mugabe's about-face gradually emerged: Stunned and embittered at his loss, he had been prepared to go, but those around him - in particular, the five generals known as "the securocrats" who oversee the armed forces, the prison service and the police - refused to let him.
"The Old Man is staying," a senior member of his ZANU-PF party told The Globe and Mail, "because I'm not ending up in The Hague."
Once again, the long arm of international law had reached into the heart of an African conflict and extinguished the possibility of a quick and peaceful resolution. Zimbabwe provides the latest evidence that a concept heralded as a way to bring justice to ordinary Africans, but driven by a largely Western- based hunger for prosecution, can instead prolong their misery. Mr. Mugabe might have been offered a deal, guaranteed by South African President Thabo Mbeki. But the men and women who had carried out his orders during a decade-long campaign of abuse against his perceived opponents (including executions, mass forced displacements and withholding food aid to the starving) had no faith that they would not end up being prosecuted.
And with good reason. I have satellite TV, the ZANU-PF boss said. I have seen Charles Taylor on trial. And it's not going to be me.
Mr. Taylor, one of the modern era's truly notorious figures, presided over a civil war in Liberia in which boy soldiers were deliberately addicted to drugs and sent (often tricked out in wild wigs and wedding dresses) to rape, pillage and murder, even members of their own families. From his seat in Monrovia, Mr. Taylor not only laid waste to Liberia, he visited his personal brand of devastation on much of West Africa, sending his forces into Sierra Leone, Guinea and the Ivory Coast in search of diamond and timber riches to salt away in his European bank accounts.
In 2003, painstaking efforts to broker peace in Liberia were under way when a special court set up by the United Nations to try war crimes in Sierra Leone indicted Mr. Taylor for crimes against humanity because of his role in that country's brutal civil war.
The peace process recovered, barely, and eventually Mr. Taylor accepted a deal, brokered by Mr. Mbeki and other African heavyweights: He got retirement in a villa by the sea in Nigeria, and Liberia got peace. The country voted in Africa's first female head of state, donor money poured in and, while people remained outrageously poor, it was a time of greater promise than any living Liberian could recall.
That was all well and good, except that Mr. Taylor's continuing freedom flew in the face of efforts to bring a new era of accountability to Africa, under the banner of "international justice."
Liberia's new President, Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson, pleaded with the world to leave Mr. Taylor alone, fearing his arrest would reignite the civil war. But she came under heavy pressure from the United States, as did the Nigerians who finally arrested Mr. Taylor in 2006 as he was trying to flee, and shipped him to Sierra Leone to stand trial. With his appearance in Freetown - a moment so stunning, so unprecedented in Africa, that people stood six deep on rooftops to watch his vehicle roll by - the era of international justice really began. Before long, he was transferred to The Hague, purportedly for security reasons, although many saw it as an admission that the West was really behind the trial. Mr. Taylor, who stole billions from Liberia, claimed destitution, so hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent to provide him with a skilled defence. No more impunity, cried the human-rights activists: There will be justice for victims.
Lost in the hullabaloo were quieter voices warning that trying Mr. Taylor - and breaking the promise of asylum he was given - just might not be the best thing for Africa.
"I kept making this point," says Peter Kagwanja, who now heads the Africa Polity Institute, a think tank in Nairobi, but was working for a major human- rights organization when Mr. Taylor was arrested.
He says he was the sole African in the debate and, no coincidence, the only one who argued that "it is right in principle to punish Taylor and to find a way of getting Taylor to pay, because allowing him to go scot-free builds the culture of impunity. But I said, 'Let them get Taylor the hell out, let him rest comfortably in Nigeria where they can be in charge of him - let Liberia have peace.' "I said, 'Whatever you do in Liberia has direct implications for Zimbabwe.' Because we knew even then Mugabe was paving his way out. If the promises given to Taylor were broken and he ended up in The Hague ... now you trace the unravelling of Zimbabwe to the contravention of those promises."
CHILD OF NUREMBERG
The world's first experiment with international justice was the Nuremberg trials in the late 1940s. The end of the Cold War made it possible to talk about regional, and then international, courts, and by the mid-1990s the concept was discussed most often in the context of Africa. It was intended as a system that would punish the worst atrocities - those that transgressed universal ideas of human rights; it would act where individual governments could not or would not, and it would end the sense of impunity that seemed to allow the most savage crimes to be committed in Africa, in one country after another, by leaders who were never called to account.
After the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, the international community, which had stood by and watched as 800,000 people were hacked to death in 90 days, stepped forward and offered up a United Nations criminal tribunal for the alleged perpetrators, housed in a vast, air-conditioned building, all blond wood and high-tech gizmos. Twelve years and an estimated $1.2-billion later, it has obtained 25 convictions. The Rwandan tribunal established some important precedents: For the first time, rapists were found guilty of a war crime; suspects were arrested abroad and returned to Africa to face trial; members of the clergy were convicted for any roles they had played.
But almost from the start, it was also clear that the tribunal would be considered a failure - or, at best, not considered at all - by those most affected: Rwandans. The court sits two days' drive away in Tanzania; for the first seven years, it neither made its judgments available in Kinyarwandan, the language of Rwandans, nor did any outreach with them. It was achingly slow and outrageously expensive and few Rwandans polled saw it as justice for what was done.
Nevertheless, the tribunal (and the simultaneous international tribunal for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia) led to a hybrid "special court," half UN and half local, which indicted a dozen leaders of Sierra Leone rebel groups who prosecutors argued bore command responsibility for atrocities in the civil war.
Then, in 2002, came the International Criminal Court (ICC), a permanent tribunal based in The Hague, created by a treaty ratified by 106 countries (the U.S. is the notable resister) and given a mandate to try cases involving war crimes and genocide. All 12 of the people it has indicted so far are African. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, a Congolese rebel leader accused of recruiting child soldiers, was to appear in the ICC's first trial on June 23, but this week his case was postponed a third time.
The ICC is working on cases in five African countries, and its proponents say high-profile trials will build true protection for human rights. Until now, countries such as Sierra Leone and Liberia have had "a culture of low expectations: The ones who are powerful will get away with whatever they want," says Corinne Dufka, a former investigator for Sierra Leone's special court who now monitors that country and Liberia for Human Rights Watch.
"That has practical implications for democracy. People also expect impunity for corruption. ... In Sierra Leone, the efficacy of the special court in helping to establish the rule of law, which is the bedrock for a peaceful society, is very hard to judge - and won't be judged by the indictment or acquittal of 10 people. It's much longer-term." That may be true - but Ms. Dufka, while hugely respected for her knowledge of the conflict, is an American, and a remarkable number of those who support the court and other forms of international justice are also outsiders. In Africa, critics are more common: They accuse the ICC and other international-justice initiatives of derailing prospects for peace in some of the more intractable conflicts, deepening the gulf between states such as Sudan and the West, and being highly political and subject to a Western agenda. Perhaps most gravely, they say, the courts have done little or nothing at all for victims.
"I'm not putting a price tag on justice, but whose justice is this?" asks John Caulker, who heads an organization called the Forum for Conscience in Freetown. "In whose interest do we have the ICC? I should not be saying this, as a human-rights advocate, but when I put on my Sierra Leonean hat, I have to ask: Is this justice to please the international community or to meet the needs of ordinary Sierra Leoneans?" He runs reconciliation programs in which he meets thousands of people who suffered horribly but know they will never receive redress: " 'Yes,' these people say, 'the court is trying those of greatest responsibility, but every day in the road, I have to live with the person who did all the things to me.' "
NIGHT OF TERROR
The young man who "did things" to Kadiatu Fofanah may still live nearby, but, mercifully, she says, she would not recognize him. Late one night in January, 1999, when the brutal Revolutionary United Front (RUF) seized Freetown, a rebel soldier who she believes was no more than a teenager burst into the room where she was hiding with her children. He shoved the kids out of the way and used a machete to cut off both of her legs at mid- thigh. Incredibly, she survived the night, and in the morning, neighbours took her to the hospital, where medics gave her the little morphine they had left and stitched over what remained of her legs.
She now lives with her husband and nine children in a little yellow bungalow an hour outside Freetown. The house is part of an "amputee village" erected by a Norwegian aid group - a suburban idyll on he grimmest of foundations. She survives by selling candy to passersby and begging every Friday in the capital.
In 2002, even as the war-crimes tribunal was setting up shop, Sierra Leone launched a truth and reconciliation commission to try to establish the root causes of the war and promote healing. Ms. Fofanah was one of the first to testify - she wanted to hear as much as she could about those who had led the boy who maimed her.
She also used to listen to the proceedings of the special court on the radio, but soon gave up in frustration. She understands that the court has a larger purpose - to enforce the idea of accountability - and will prosecute nine or 10 ringleaders while the country's peace deal gives all other offenders amnesty. "They are trying these ones to make the others become afraid."
However, she adds bluntly, "That is good for them, but not for me. We amputees have been told to forgive and forget to sustain the peace. But what makes me forget is having something to eat and my kids going to school - so they can ... bring me something to survive. That's what would allow me to forget."
Ms. Fofanah sees the elaborate court building (like some Frank Gehry knockoff plunked into a rubbish-choked city) and its parking lot jammed with SUVs. She hears that the trials have cost $150-million thus far and sees in newspaper photographs that the accused have gained weight and smart wardrobes while in jail.
"They should have spent money on all of us, taken care of us, and then run a special court," she says, shifting in her wheelchair, a gesture of discomfort she repeats all day long. "Then things would have been good for the country."
A COURT ABUSED
International justice is a disappointment in Sierra Leone, but many people in war-ravaged northern Uganda describe it as a complete disaster.
In 2005, the ICC issued its first-ever indictments, against Joseph Kony and four of his senior commanders in the Lord's Resistance Army. Since he began his rebel movement more than 20 years ago, Mr. Kony, a self-styled prophet, has ordered the abduction of tens of thousands of children and terrorized them into fighting a savage 21-year war.
Ostensibly, he seeks to oust the government, but rather than fight Ugandan soldiers, he attacks his own people.
The ICC began to investigate just as mediator Betty Bigombe, who had spent years of building trust on both sides, was negotiating a truce and persuading the combatants to talk. With the announcement of the investigation, the LRA immediately withdrew from peace talks. Just like the securocrat in Zimbabwe, Mr. Kony told Ms. Bigombe he would never end up in The Hague.
The court had been invited to Uganda by its President, Yoweri Museveni, and agreed to step in even though it has a mandate to act only when a local justice system can't or won't, and Uganda's is quite robust. But Mr. Museveni was only a half-hearted supporter of the peace process, and with this move - which even proponents of international justice such as Richard Dicker of Human Rights Watch call a "shrewd" use of the court - he wound up with ample excuse to continue military offensives against the LRA.
Later that year, a peace agreement in Sudan cost the rebels their haven there, and soon there was another window of opportunity for a ceasefire. Lengthy negotiations culminated in a deal that was to be signed two months ago. But once again, the indictments got in the way. "The ICC has made it impossible for Joseph Kony and any of his commanders who think they are going to be imminently indicted to come out," says specialist Erin Baines, an expert on Uganda and transitional justice with the Liu Centre for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia.
Indictments can be suspended, and last year Mr. Museveni - under pressure for having called in the court - asked it to do so, but prosecutor Luis Moreno- Ocampo refused. Peace negotiators were trying to offer Mr. Kony a judicial process in Uganda instead, which could include traditional truth-telling and reconciliation rituals, but he reportedly was certain he would be handed over to the ICC - that Charles Taylor Effect again.
And so today, Prof. Baines says, Mr. Kony is out rearming his forces and abducting new child soldiers. He now operates in the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan, which, with Uganda, are the only countries whose governments have invited in the ICC. As a result, she says, "you have these rebel leaders saying, 'We have nothing else to do except band together and find new ways of fuelling our movements.' "
Matthew Brubacher, a Uganda-based analyst with the ICC, says he understands the concern, but there is no proof the indictments are anything but an excuse for Mr. Kony to dodge a peace deal. "The fact is that the court is not a political institution; we can take matters of security into consideration in terms of victims and witnesses, but our overall decision making is determined by the crimes and the responsibilities of the perpetrators.
"If the court becomes embroiled in political matters" - such as its impact on a peace process - "then we lose our independence."
For the more than one million Ugandans living in wretched refugee camps because of the war, this sort of debate is an absurd luxury. When people survey the civilians of northern Uganda, those who have lived through the war for more than a generation, justice barely registers as a priority. They want peace. Prosecution is also fine - until it starts getting in the way.
When nearly 3,000 Ugandans were polled by the International Centre for Transitional Justice last year, they listed their top priorities as peace, health care, education for their children and the ability to farm their land. A mere 3 per cent chose justice. Asked what should be done with those responsible for major human-rights abuses, more than half said they wanted "forgiveness, reconciliation, or reintegration for LRA leaders." Just 22 per cent said they wanted them tried, and, if convicted, sent to prison. Asked if they favoured peace with amnesty or peace with trials, 80 per cent of respondents chose peace with amnesty.
"What constitutes justice for people is not necessarily prosecution," says Moses Okello, a Kampala-based expert in international human-rights law. "Of course, people want some accountability done, but in northern Uganda it plays out like this: 'You killed my father, or you abducted me and I lost the chance to go to school, I can't get a job, I'm basically a basket case - it does not make sense for government to take you away to jail. If we work something out locally, there will be compensation for what I went through.'
"We're not saying that accountability is not important, but it can also take the form of taking responsibility for the livelihood of the families of the aggrieved."
Although institutions such as the ICC see justice as a civic or political affair, Mr. Okello, who heads a program on transitional justice and is from northern Uganda, says many Africans see it as a social and economic issue, a perspective he considers equally valid.
But Tim Allen, a professor of development studies at the London School of Economics who has studied northern Uganda for decades, argues that implicit in this argument is the abhorrent idea that somehow northern Ugandans are less deserving of having their human rights defended. "Using 'traditional justice' risks implying that ... northern Ugandans need their own special justice measures, because they are not yet ready for modern ones," he wrote recently in defence of the court.
For Prof. Baines, however, all of this debate misses the underlying point. "There are two different languages and even when people are trying to attempt to listen to victims and ask what want for justice, they ask, 'Is it trials or truth commissions?' instead of really trying to understand how they might be defining justice in really different ways. Maybe justice is 'I want to bury my dead and move on,' or, 'Honestly, I want to forget.' "
Corinne Dufka, the veteran investigator into Sierra Leone's war, says that ideas of justice imposed from outside may not always be consistent with local ones, but she "can live with" some paternalism. "Most Sierra Leoneans I ask say that [RUF leader] Foday Sankoh should have been tortured and hung, that the rebels should have had their limbs amputated - if you go just by what people say, the bar would be set pretty low. One man's paternalism is another man's entrenchment of basic human rights. Dismembering Foday Sankoh is not okay."
If the ICC's first steps in Uganda were awkward, the warrants issued since have done little to improve its reputation.
Last month, human-rights groups heralded the arrest in Belgium of Jean-Paul Bemba, a former rebel leader and vicepresident in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as a sign that, in Mr. Dicker's words, "no one is above the law."
But supporters of Mr. Bemba, who is to stand trial before the ICC for abuses committed in neighbouring Central African Republic, staged angry demonstrations in Kinshasa, arguing that, if he is a suspect, so is DRC President Joseph Kabila. Others warned that his arrest represents a serious threat to the Congo's fragile peace.
"It's a risk to stability," says Mr. Kagwanja of the Nairobi think tank. "Bemba is a key player; he and Kabila could talk, and they're arresting him when the eastern part of country is already in flames - they are setting so many fires."
But the ICC depends on the government to be able to operate in DRC, he notes, so it is unlikely to move against Mr. Kabila or anyone in his administration. Similarly, both Ugandan President Museveni and Rwandan leader Paul Kagame have been implicated in the atrocities committed by their armies in eastern Congo. "They have indicted those who were politically easy to get, not necessarily the most responsible," Prof. Baines says.
By its very existence, she argues, the ICC risks entrenching dictators. "They all know they cannot leave power: Museveni cannot leave. He's just as guilty for crimes committed in Congo. Where's he going to go?" Two years ago, he pushed through an amendment to Uganda's constitution ensuring he could run repeatedly for office again. "Where's Kabila going to go? ... There's the moral high ground and then there's reality."
Yet, at the same time, it is impossible to evaluate the ICC and other international attempts to bring justice on the basis of what hasn't happened - which warlords did not abduct children, or send their armies into diamond fields - because the courts now exist and could indict such people.
And without prosecution, what's left?
Deal-making, say critics of the rigidity of international justice: some shade of grey.
William Schabas, a Canadian legal expert who sat on Sierra Leone's truth and reconciliation commission, says the courts can't see past a "knee-jerk, mechanistic" definition of justice. He recalls hearing a group of visiting activists in South Africa recently remark with satisfaction that "what happened in South Africa in the early 1990s would never be allowed to happen now."
They were referring to South Africa's decision to grant amnesty to former apartheid-era officials and liberation fighters who had committed abuses, in exchange for full disclosure before its truth and reconciliation hearings. Prof. Schabas, who now runs a human-rights centre at the National University of Ireland, was astounded.
"I said, 'What happened in South Africa in the early 1990s was the best thing to happen in my lifetime.' " The activists, he says, ignored the fact the amnesty allowed a transition from a vicious, intractable conflict to a peaceful, democratic, remarkably functional state.
And South Africa is not alone. People such as Mr. Dicker of Human Rights Watch contend that accountability is required for a true and durable peace. But there are countries across Africa, such as Namibia and Mozambique, that have built strong democratic institutions and the rule of law without revisiting atrocities during their civil wars.
CAST OUT THE DEVIL
Outside Freetown, in the yellow bungalow next door to Kadiatu Fofanah, Sosie Sawaneh does his best to raise his nine children; at 65, he struggles to work a small field since the RUF amputated his left arm in 1999. He was a witness for the prosecution at the trial of the RUF leaders and, although he bemoans his reduced circumstances, he admires the special court, which he says "has done great work for the country."
"If they were not around, somebody would kill another person and believe they would go free," he says. "Because the special court came and tried some of these people, others are now afraid - and that is a great thing for the country. "
In the eastern Congo, one side effect of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo's arrest and pending trial is that it is now widely understood that recruiting children to fight is illegal. Although in the short term that means rebel leaders now hide their underage fighters when child- protection authorities come to their camps, it may discourage the practice in the long term.
But Mr. Kagwanja suspects that these are slim victories. "Africans don't trust the court - it is a Western court that might be doing its duty, but it is undermining the process of stabilizing the continent from decades of chaos."
Ask Zimbabweans what they think of the Charles Taylor Effect, he says. They want Robert Mugabe gone, and if that takes a seaside villa and a gentle retirement, if it takes a blanket amnesty for his henchmen, fine. "If the devil has to exist somewhere, let him be" - just get him out of Zimbabwe.
Stephanie Nolen is The Globe and Mail's Africa correspondent, based in Johannesburg.