Will the International Anti-Corruption Court be used to reinforce Western hegemony?

Alatenumo
4 min readSep 1, 2023

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Dear Rt Hon Lord Hain,

I read with interest your article titled, “The time for instituting a new global corruption court is now,” which was published in the 15 August 2023 edition of the Financial Times. Your article made the case for establishing an International Anti-Corruption Court (IACC).

As you rightly pointed out, “Kleptocracies have ravaged their populations for far too long, with corrupt leaders looting public funds for personal gain and thrusting their people deeper into poverty.” The IACC is a good idea, but the questions that need to be addressed are: Whose interests would the IACC represent? Which countries and leaders would be indicted by the IACC? What definition of corruption will apply?

Based on the current trajectory of the formation of the IACC, it appears that the set-up would follow the path of other alphabet soup of international organisations such as the World Bank (WB), International Monetary Fund (IMF), International Criminal Court (ICC), World Trade Organisation (WTO) which the West has weaponised against the black and brown people of the Global South.

The idea for an International Anti-Corruption Court was championed in 2014 by Mark L. Wolf, the former Chief Judge of the District of Massachusetts. He argued, “An International Anti-Corruption Court would provide a forum to enforce those laws, punish corrupt leaders, and deter and thus diminish grand corruption. The successful prosecution and imprisonment of corrupt leaders would create opportunities for the democratic process to produce successors dedicated to serving their people rather than to enriching themselves.” He also noted that the conditions that led to the creation of the International Criminal Court are emerging for the IACC.

When one looks at faces indicted by the ICC, one will see the black and brown faces of William Ruto, Laurent Gbagbo, Muammar Gaddafi, Uhuru Kenyatta, and Charles Blé Goudé. In contrast, the white faces from the Global North, such as Tony Blair and George Bush, responsible for crimes against humanity, are missing. With the IACC being modelled under the same principles as the ICC, one should expect the prevalence of people from the Global South to be prosecuted by the IACC.

You note, “At the New Institute in Hamburg, a group of eminent jurists and lawyers will begin, on 27 August, to draft a treaty to establish an International Anti-Corruption Court.” From history, we learn how the West employed treaties to the detriment of our ancestors. We are aware of how Western countries used treaties to establish colonies, appropriate Africa’s resources, and steal African lands. So will the treaty, which would eventually be signed by governments in both the Global North and Global South, be fair and square, or would it be one-sided like those treaties that came before it?

For the IACC to be equitable, it should view corruption beyond the prevailing Western-tinted lens. When one reads about corruption from Western commentators and papers, one would think that corruption is a Yoruba, Shona or Kikuyu word. While corruption is reserved for the rest of the world, more diplomatic names like sleaze, revolving door and lobbying are applied to the Western perpetrators. As Western commentators dismiss leaders in the Global South as kleptocrats and autocrats, we see them hail Western leaders for their honesty and for championing democracy.

While you devote space in your piece to talk about state capture in South Africa under former President Zuma and the billions of dollars stolen by former President Santos of Anglo, you have nothing to say about the British government awarding £10.5 billion in COVID contracts without a competitive tender process. You have nothing to say about the 27 clients of Donald Trump-connected lobbyists who received federal COVID aid, totalling over $10.5 billion. You have nothing to say about Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s links with a hedge fund, which earned massive returns from investment in US-based vaccine manufacturer Moderna after the UK Government had secured 7 million doses of the Moderna vaccine.

Since the IACC appears to be a Western construct, it should let charity begin at home. To prevent the IACC from following in the footsteps of its cousin, the ICC, it should start by indicting Western politicians and bankers involved in corruption and money laundering. Once we have seen a fair share of white faces in the dock for corruption, the IACC can turn its gaze on the black and brown politicians and non-western white actors. In short, let it be “Even Steven” as far as the IACC operates. If nothing is done to address the potential Western weaponisation of the IACC, over time, it would be dismissed by the Global South as a pound shop International Criminal Court promoting Western hegemony with no relevance for the 21st century.

Selah.

Yours sincerely

Ahmed Olayinka Sule, CFA

@Alatenumo

September 2023

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