International,  Law

Ain’t No Justice

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown turns her finely-tuned mind to ‘double standards’ in international politics:

Only Third World and ex-Communist bastards ever get to face international condemnation and trials. If the Sri Lankangovernment carries on shelling Tamil civilians, it will be ( rightly) censured and held responsible by the UN and other bodies. Not so-called “leading nations” when they ignore binding conventions. Sure, a few unfortunate soldiers or policemen are forced through weak, domestic investigations to prove that rule of law is respected. They are merely sacrificial goats. People of real of power or influence in the west or Israel, or Russia, now China and India, know they will never be dragged off to The Hague.

There’s an interesting argument to be had about the best way of holding politicians accountable to the law in a globalised world which I don’t propose to go into here, except to note that the reason politicians from more powerful countries aren’t being ‘dragged off’ to the Hague in sufficient numbers for Ms Alibhai-Brown is probably less a result of double standards than the fact that neither the United States, Israel, Russia or China have ratified the Rome Statute of the International Court: put simply, the Court doesn’t have jurisdiction over these countries, and may find itself in some political and/or military difficulty if it attempted to do any extra-jurisdictional ‘dragging’ of politicians from these countries from their beds.

What I do want to focus in on is the political conclusion Alibhai-Brown comes to after she surmises that it’s the existence of double standards, not pesky legal principles which is the reason international legal action against powerful countries has been so limited. Here’s what she thinks is happening in the wider world because of this supposed legal vacuum:

Millions around the world, the young in particular, will not accept that double international standards are as immutable as laws of nature. They are now connected up, sharing rage and frustration. The beneficiaries are Mugabe (a hero for many), Bin Laden, Hamas, suicide terrorist cells, violent nihilists and real anti-Semites.


It has to be said, her conclusions do beg a wide range of questions including, but certainly not limited, to the following: are Hamas, Al Qaeda et al really motivated by rage and frustration brought about by the limited range of the ICC’s jurisdiction? What exactly are real, as opposed to pretend, anti-Semites? Who, apart from a diminishing number of African kleptocrats view Robert Mugabe as a hero? and finally, why on earth are hard facts and discernable logic still so absent from the political opinions of  the UK liberal commentariat?

Answers in the usual place.