ICC was purposefully created to protect interests of all great powers

The exterior view of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, March 31, 2021. [AP Photo]

Global institutions adapt to new realities. With signs that the United Nations, one such institution suffers creeping decay, calls for reforms in the composition of the Security Council get loud.

Although the likelihood of reforms is distant, they make the UN seem increasingly irrelevant, mainly because it no longer lives up to the ideals of its founders, especially Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

To guarantee the viability of what he called the United Nations that was to replace the moribund League of Nations, Roosevelt dreamt of a post-World War II organisation in which each big power would belong.

The reason the League of Nations failed, he believed, was because two major powers were not members. These were the United States by choice and the Soviet Union by being excluded. To ensure that the two and three other powers were in the new body, he proposed protecting them from the ravages of global democracy.

That protection was to make each of them a permanent member of the UN Security Council with veto power on any matter that might affect its sense of security. And at Yalta, the big powers agreed to divide Europe into spheres of influence with the Soviets keeping Eastern Europe as part of its security architecture. Thereafter, for 45 years during the Cold War, the Soviet Union and the US competed for global dominance.

Despite competing geopolitically and ideologically, the two sides remained clear that on matters of security, other organs were subordinate to the Security Council. After the Cold War, the UN created the International Criminal Court (ICC) as an instrument of post-modern colonialism to police leaders of small states. It seemingly exempted big states in the conceptual West who reserved for themselves the latitude to act as they wished without being questioned.

The ICC, so argued British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, was not meant for the United States or the United Kingdom. To be doubly sure of that, the United States Congress passed a law popularly known as ‘The Hague Invasion Act’, committing to bomb The Hague to Stone Age should it dare to indict Americans. Washington also pressured other countries, especially in the Global South to exempt Americans from ICC proceedings. ICC was not meant for big powers.

Although Britain and the US refused to join or be accountable to the ICC, they have inordinate control of The Hague. This is through financing and the large presence of their citizens as ICC officials at every level. This reality makes the ICC a tool for advancing Western global political desires. Currently, those desires call for fixing Russia and the ICC is a handy instrument.

The supposed ICC warrant of arrest against Russia President Vladimir Putin is thus part of the global power play to entertain and massage the conceptual West’s geopolitical ego. Given the ICC inability or unwillingness to issue warrants of arrest to American, British, or even French officials for atrocities they might have committed in places like Libya, Afghanistan or Iraq, its pronouncements have little effect on the practice of power politics. Since they violate common sense, the pronouncements simply reinforce the belief that ‘international law’ is for small countries to obey and for big powers to break.

The logic of power gives the big ones ‘sovereign’ right to break purported ‘international law’ if that law offends its perceived national security. The ICC, a subordinate entity, is thus obnoxious to logic and lacks capacity to dictate to Russia, US, Britain, France, or China.

For the purported warrant to have legitimacy, therefore, the UN Security Council would need disbanding due to failure to protect the interests of the big powers. In part, this is because creatures cannot supersede creators. Since the logic of the UN founders was to protect big power's sense of security, disbanding the ICC might be easier than disbanding the UN Security Council.