Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Burundi Becomes the Frst Nation to Leave the International Criminal Court

The Financial Times' Mining and Commodities editor, Neil Hume visited FT Alphaville's Markets Live, causing some excitement among the rabble:
Boncoeur crikey, Neil Hume is in da house!
erlkin neil hume rocks
GBKrona Hola - welcome back @NH
Okay, excitement FT reader style but style nonetheless (I think the middle one was a pun!)

Mr. Hume goes on to discuss China and oil and stuff and I remembered we had a story on Burundi that had not been posted.
The mental connection being Burundi's neighbor, Democratic Republic of the Congo, one of the giants of the resource biz.

For around a year the international hubbub over Burundi was something to behold: NGO's making statements to be parroted as news and repeated by the big trans-national organizations, United Nations, African Union etc., the stuff you see when a country has been targeted for regime change/color revolution.

Speaking of regimes, the decision of the Burundian President to run for a third term, controversial but arguably legal, became a cause célèbre and led to international calls for military intervention based in part by the violence wracking the country.

We took a look at that in April 2016's "International Criminal Court Opens Early Probe Into Chicago Violence":
The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has opened a preliminary probe into atrocities in Chicago over the last year, saying violence in the city has reportedly left more than 430 people dead and forced 230,000 to flee their homes.-ABC
Oh wait.
The ICC isn't looking into Chicago, it's looking into Burundi.
The numbers are very close though.
Chicago's murder stats for 2015 were Shot & Killed: 445 with 507 total homicides. Also something like 200,000 fleeing the city:
From a population of 2,896,016  in 2000 to 2,722,389 at the start of last year.
Of course Burundi's population is around 9 million so Chicago's percentages are higher.

Here's the latest on Burundi via the Financial Times:
Burundi faces ICC probe as political violence escalates...
The international noise machine had even enlisted the U.S. President, something we last noted in June's "The Cobalt Trade Worked Out, On To Ruthenium":
...Here's "A “dark side” to the commodity boom in Africa" which, of course reminded me of something, in this case Presidential Executive Order 13712 of November 2015, which begins, in part:
I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, find that the situation in Burundi, which has been marked by the killing of and violence against civilians, unrest, the incitement of imminent violence, and significant political repression, and which threatens the peace, security, and stability of Burundi, constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat. I hereby order:...
Bet you didn't know about that one huh?
Anyway, in 2015-2016 we had a series of posts on a trade to capitalize on Tesla's battery ambitions that we hoped would go beyond the "common knowledge" lithium action (which we had covered here on the blog for the prior ten years):...
So, to sum up, we had a violence level one-third Chicago's and a President (Nkurunziza) who has been in office for a shorter period than, say, U.S. and European BFF Rwanda's Kagame (since 2000) or Zimbabwe's Mugabe (since 1987) being used as a pretext to change the government.

And then Burundi dropped off the radar.
The herd of international NGO's and their media and the transnationals moved on.

And so should I. Here's the headline story via San Francisco Bay View, Nov. 2:

Burundi’s Parliament votes to withdraw from the ICC.
Last year the African Union resisted Western pressure to intervene militarily in Burundi. On Oct. 26, Burundi officially completed its withdrawal from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) without being indicted.

The next day, the Non-Aligned Movement of 120 member nations rejected the U.N. Commission of Inquiry’s report accusing Burundi of human rights crimes within its own borders. That’s quite a list of anti-imperial accomplishments for a tiny East African nation that’s always ranked among the 10 poorest in the world.

Burundi is the first African nation to withdraw from the ICC’s jurisdiction. Neither the U.S., Russia, China, nor Israel have ever accepted its jurisdiction, and it has prosecuted Africans almost exclusively. In 2011, it indicted Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi for alleged human rights crimes and issued an arrest warrant that became part of NATO’s case for bombing Libya. Other African nations have said they plan to withdraw from the ICC as well, but they haven’t yet filed formal notice.

Last year the African Union resisted Western pressure to intervene militarily in Burundi. On Oct. 26, Burundi officially completed its withdrawal from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) without being indicted.

Western powers, NGOs and press have accused Burundi of human rights abuse within its own borders but not of invading another country. I asked Canadian lawyer David Paul Jacobs, an expert in international law, to contextualize this distinction.

David Paul Jacobs: The context of this is that none of the ad hoc international criminal tribunals that sprang to life after the end of the Cold War had the power to indict any state or any other party for the crime of aggression. And that’s really important in this case because Burundi has made very credible claims that it’s been attacked by agents of neighboring Rwanda, but the attackers have escaped back into Rwanda, where they have state protection.

At the ICC, Rwanda is absolutely immune from prosecution for the crime of aggression against Burundi. The problem is that without a mechanism for trying crimes of aggression, what you’re left with is simply the context of violence and problems going on within a state. The fact that the violence and the problems within the state can be instigated by aggression from an outside state is outside of the court’s purview.

To understand this, you have to roll the clock back to look at what should be our lodestone for understanding international law, and that is the Nuremberg Tribunal. And the Nuremberg Tribunal declared fairly famously:

“War is essentially an evil thing, and the consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone, but affect the whole world. To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime. It is a supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulative evil of the whole.”

Within the Nuremberg Principles drafted after World War II there are three types of war crimes. One is the crime of aggression, which is initiating a war contrary to international treaties establishing the boundaries of nations.

The other two subordinate crimes are crimes against humanity and war crimes, but it’s only those two subordinate crimes that the international criminal court, or any international criminal court, has the power to look at. So people of states can and do accuse other states of those two crimes when they want to initiate “regime change.”

Aggressor states such as Rwanda – or the United States – can thus wage war against other states with impunity at the ICC, as Rwanda has in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or as the U.S. has in Yugoslavia, Libya, Syria etc. These aggressor states enlist the international criminal courts to indict the leaders of their target states, and then these courts become accomplices in the supreme international law crime, which is the crime of aggression, also known as a crime against peace.

Ann Garrison: So if an army invades another country, even with armed forces, fighter bombers, drones, and the other country captures and tortures some invading soldiers, the torture would be a crime that the ICC could prosecute, but the invasion would not.

DPJ: Yes, at the International Criminal Court.
However, invasion is in fact a war of aggression subject to indictment by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which was created by the U.N. Charter and which codified the Nuremberg Principles drafted after World War II. The ICJ did try the United States for supporting the Contra terrorists in Nicaragua, and the U.S. argued that it was a humanitarian intervention. The ICJ responded that international law doesn’t recognize the legality of any such intervention and then convicted the U.S., but of course the U.S. just ignored it....MUCH MORE
But on November 6 the Trump White house posted "Notice Regarding the Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Burundi".

A couple more of our Burundi posts:
January 2016
"Will the West Create its Next Failed State in Burundi?"
February 2017
"Burundi Tops List Of Potential Coup Targets"
We had them on the top 5 list for 2016 but something happened to redirect the action across the border to DR Congo.

And Central Africa: 
Why the CIA Reads The Financial Times (and you should too) Tesla and Cobalt
"Freeport Sinks On Sale of Africa Copper Mine To Chinese" (FCX; LUN.TO)
DR Congo’s State Mining Company Submitted An Offer to Buy Freeport McMoRan's Stake In Tenke Fungurume Copper, Cobalt Mine (FCX;
"Electric-car makers on battery alert as hedge funds stockpile cobalt"