Thursday, 25 June 2015

Turbulent times for international justice

A turbulent few weeks for international justice. First, Sudan’s President Omer el Beshir arrived in South Africa on 13 June for the African Union summit despite his indictment by the International Criminal Court for genocide. He left barely two days later as the Pretoria High Court deliberated on the South African government’s legal obligations to arrest him.

It has emerged that foreign ministers at the AU summit had earlier called for the ICC’s charges to be dropped against both Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto and Omer el Beshir. They also called for the UN Security Council to withdraw the referral of Sudan to the ICC. Last December, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told the UNSC that she had 'hibernated' work on the Darfur investigation due to lack of international cooperation.

And on 20 June, British officials arrest Rwanda's spy chief General Emmanuel Karenzi Karake on a Spanish arrest warrant issued under European Union rules. Rwanda condemned his arrest on war crimes charges as outrageous, given his role in the military force that stopped the genocide.
Britain had little choice once Spain had submitted the warrant but to detain Karenzi and test the charges in court. If they are as weak as Kigali and others maintain, the court will throw them out and Karenzi will be on his way back to Kigali. If the London court finds merit in them and approves Karenzi’s extradition for trial in Spain, yet another politically charged case will be in the making.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Coordinating carbon

With just six months before the climate change treaty talks in Paris, Africa is battling to coordinate an effective negotiating strategy. Governments should muster the political will, says the Africa Progress Panel (APP), to push harder to defend the interests of a continent that contributes least to global warming yet suffers most from it through drought, desertification and increasingly frequent flooding.

In its latest, 180-page report, the APP, under former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, says the treaty should stipulate phasing out the estimated US$600 billion a year subsidies on fossil fuels. 'They should be pricing carbon out of the market through taxation, not subsidising a climate catastrophe,' says Annan. The European Union, China and the United States have improved their position on fossil fuels but Australia, Canada, Japan and Russia have withdrawn from serious dialogue, says the APP.

Most importantly for Africa, the report argues there should be no trade-off between growth and low-carbon development. It sets out research showing how the pioneering technology being developed for low-cost, renewable energy in storing and distributing solar, wind and mini-hydro electricity could give Africa an even bigger economic boost than the introduction of mobile telephone technology two decades ago. Priorities might include redirecting over $21 billion spent annually on subsidising loss-making utilities and electricity consumption to connecting remote areas and developing renewable energy.