Last week, the African Union passed a resolution refusing to cooperate with the International Criminal Court on the case of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. This maneuver, engineered by Libyan President Gaddafi, is a sure sign of the AU’s institutional decline from a once-promising ideal of ‘sovereignty as responsibility’ into a club for dictators much like its predecessor, the Organization for African Unity. As a colleague put it, the AU appears “doggedly determined to make itself completely irrelevant in the lives of ordinary Africans.”
Not all African states appear to be following this lamentable path: Botswana came out swinging against the resolution, and South Africa President Zuma is under fire for not taking a stronger stance. But the folks who really ought to be ashamed for their silence are those states that have actually referred cases to the ICC, notably Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central Africa Republic. As Joseph Were puts it at Uganda Talks, the excellent new blog from Ugandan newspaper The Independent, “Sitting on the fence might leave Uganda tied in hypocritical tinsel.” The same goes for the other African states that have lodged cases with the ICC.