State impunity is back in fashion
THE recently announced withdrawal from the international criminal court (ICC) by Burundi, Gambia and South Africa, following earlier threats from some other African countries, has created the impression that Africa is hostile to the court.
Let me emphasise, however, that the people of Africa, and particularly the victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and members of those communities affected by genocide, stand by the ICC. Most of the continent’s democratic governments stand by the ICC. I stand by the ICC, because the most heinous crimes must not go unpunished.
The mere existence of the ICC can serve as a deterrent for leaders tempted by violence to shore up their regimes
As the African who opened the conference in Rome in 1998 that led to the creation of the court, I was proud that my continent was its most enthusiastic supporter. Memories of the horrors of the Rwandan genocide were still fresh in our minds. In fact, the first signatory of the treaty was an African country: Senegal. Africa remains the single largest regional bloc, with 34 states party to the Rome statute out of 124. We also made the most use of the institution from the outset: of the nine investigations on the African continent, eight were requested by African states, six African states referred their own situation to the ICC, and African states voted in support of the UN Security Council referrals on Darfur and Libya.
Kenya was the only case in Africa opened independently by the court, but it enjoyed the enthusiastic support of a majority of Kenyans. They wanted justice for the 1,300 people killed and hundreds of thousands displaced in election-related violence.
The ICC got involved in these African cases because national authorities did not conduct investigations into the massive crimes that had occurred. The ICC does not supplant national jurisdictions, it only intervenes in cases where the country concerned is either unable or unwilling to try its own citizens. Africans deserve justice as much as anyone else, even if their governments cannot always provide it.
Some retort that the African court on justice and human rights should play that role on the continent. Its protocol was adopted two years ago, but it remains largely unratified. For the time being, the ICC remains the continent’s most credible court of last resort for the most serious crimes.
To those who think that Africa is the sole subject of international justice, we should remind them that international criminal tribunals were first set up after the Second World War, at Nuremberg and Tokyo. After the cold war, more international or mixed tribunals were set up for crimes in Lebanon, Cambodia and Yugoslavia. Nor will international justice stop in Africa. The ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, an accomplished African lawyer, has opened investigations in Georgia and is conducting preliminary examinations in Afghanistan, Colombia, Ukraine, Iraq and Palestine.
Finally, we need to recognise that the mere existence of the ICC can serve as a deterrent for leaders tempted by violence to shore up their regimes. Be that as it may, we should never forget that justice is its own virtue.
All this is not to say that the ICC is beyond reproach. Most egregiously, the fact that only two of the five permanent members of the United Nations security council – the UK and France – are signatories to the Rome statute (and therefore members of the court), opens the court up to accusations of double standards. l
Mr Annan served as secretary-general of the United Nations from January 1997 to December 2006.
HOW would you grade your prayer life these days? Are your spiritual batteries drained? Do you need a recharge? It’s easy for prayer to become monotonous and predictable, but the Holy Spirit is always willing to offer a jumpstart. Even if you feel like a failure in this area, He can turn a spiritual wimp into a warrior.
After a recent string of answered prayers, I’ve discovered a fresh excitement about my own prayer journey. I’ve also realized that if I want to mature spiritually, my prayer life must go to a higher level. Here are eight ways you can turn up the heat:
Develop your spiritual confidence. Many Christians live on the far edges of God’s blessings because they don’t believe they have been made righteous by Christ’s sacrifice. You will never expect answers from God if you think He is mad at you.
Don’t act like a slave who begs for things. You are His heir, and He has given you His royal robe, His signet ring and His estate. He wants to give you the kingdom. God tells us to “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace” (Heb. 4:16). You can ask Him for anything.
Be more specific. Zig Ziglar used to say: “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” That’s why vague prayers are inferior to specific ones. I have recently begun the habit of making a “Top Seven List” of prayer requests.
When I did this during my recent outof-state move, the Lord answered six of my seven requests within two months. One of my prayers was that when I bought my new house, my new house payment would not be more than my old one. It turned out to be one dollar less! I was reminded that James 4:2 says: “You do not have because you do not ask.”
Ask big. We can limit what God wants to do in the Earth by praying in a puny way. Why would we settle for less when God can do the impossible? Elisha boldly asked his mentor, Elijah, for a double portion of the Holy Spirit — and God gave him that mantle. God may want to double what you are requesting of Him. The Lord said: “Ask of Me, and I will give the nations for Your inheritance... “( Ps. 2:8). His vision for your life is far greater than what you supposed.
Become more aggressive. Status quo prayers won’t be enough in seasons of spiritual battle. There is a time to go to war in the spirit, and this will require a militant attitude toward the enemy. When Elisha told King Joash to take arrows and strike the ground, in preparation for a battle, the king halfheartedly hit the ground only three times. Elisha said: “You should have struck five or six times, then you would have struck Aram until you would have destroyed it” (2 Kings 13:18-19). Too often we are satisfied with small victories because we didn’t pray with enough intensity. Your zeal will often determine your outcome.
Groan when necessary. People who have allowed God to use them in intercession know that certain situations require travail. This is not easy prayer — it is the spiritual equivalent of childbirth! When Elijah prayed for rain to end a sevenyear drought, the Bible says he “crouched down upon the earth and put his face between his knees” (1 Kings 18:42).
If you really want a crime wave to end in your city, or a nation to find Jesus, or your own children to be saved, let the
(Eph. 3:20). That means after I pray, God adds His own miraculous ingredient.
My prayers may seem feeble and flawed, but He is able to amplify them. Like the tiny lunch of five loaves and two fish, Jesus can take something insignificant and feed a multitude. When you pray, expect Him to increase the impact. What you whisper in your closet can shake the world.
J. Lee Grady was editor of Charisma for 11 years before he launched into full-time ministry in 2010.