The Hague is not just for Africans

Assembly of States Parties conference at The Hague on November 19, 2015. Photo/ICC
Assembly of States Parties conference at The Hague on November 19, 2015. Photo/ICC

On Thursday the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia sentenced Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic to 40 years in prison.

The judges in The Hague found him guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Balkan conflict that followed the break-up of Yugoslavia, and of involvement in the Srebrenica massacre of 7,000 Muslim men and boys in 1995.

The ICTY has indicted 161 people for war crimes in the Balkans. So far 74 have been convicted and 18 acquitted.

The UN Security Council set up an International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 1994 and the Special Tribunal for Cambodia in 2004.

The creation of these tribunals led to the establishment of the International Criminal Court in 2002 in the Hague.

There has been a persistent narrative that the Hague is anti-African.

The ICTY indicted 161 people, a mixture of Serbs, Croats and Bosnians. So far the ICC has only indicted 39 people, all of whom are African.

However crimes against humanity are always divisive. Bosnians think 40 years for Karadzic is too lenient. Serbs think he is a victim.

Africa should not quit the ICC. The Karadzic case reminds us that this is an international justice system, not a justice system for Africa only.

Historical quote: " I do not believe that the men who served in uniform in Vietnam have been given the credit they deserve. It was a difficult war against an unorthodox enemy." - Gen William Westmoreland was born on March 26, 1914.