Africa, International Criminal Court & God.

By Brandon Bailey

What is making headlines in Africa these days is the ongoing dialogue amongst African leaders at African Union (AU) level to develop a collective strategy for withdrawal from the International Crimes Court (ICC). South Africa and Burundi have already taken the necessary steps for withdrawal from the ICC and Kenya might follow their lead. Majority of African countries are in support of this idea as most African nations feel that the ICC is biased and targets Africa and The Middle East. This in many ways is a political position and argument and as kingdom custodians we have to ask ourselves what is the biblical position on this.

The first thing we have to understand is that God promotes the independence of all nations. Nations are governed on the principle of stewardship and stewardship can only be measured on the basis of its own independence. In other words “What did you (independent nation) do with what I gave you”. If sovereignty does not exist amongst the nations of the earth then judgment upon the nations can’t be accurate. God judges nations independently and not as a collective.

Isaiah 2:4a NLT “The LORD will mediate between nations and will settle international disputes…”

The idea that God will judge the nations of the earth as a collective tend to excuse us from personal responsibility and pits nations against nations in an ungodly way. We must therefore understand that Sovereign God promotes the Sovereignty of nations and will never be inconsistent in His dealings with nations. The Prophet Daniel explains how God is involved in the selection process of leaders for independent nations.

Daniel 2:21 NIV “He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.”

The sovereignty of nations must be honoured and embraced as God’s modus operandi for establishing governance in the nations of the earth.

God’s modus operandi for governance is always defined in a local context first. Let us briefly consider the following verse:

Deuteronomy 16:18-19, TLB. "Appoint judges and administrative officials for all the cities the Lord your God is giving you. They will administer justice in every part of the land. Never twist justice to benefit a rich man, and never accept bribes. For bribes blind the eyes of the wisest and corrupt their decisions."

In our text we learn and understand that judges are local and in the same token government administrators are local. God works within a local framework because the dynamics for each nation is so different. What we often fail to understand about justice and governance is that the cultural context of each nation shapes and influences how judgment is passed. Locals understand a cultural context and as such are perhaps the most qualified to judge their own.

The text then goes on to explain how justice is often twisted to benefit the rich. In the ICC context whether we want to admit it or not certain individuals have been excused from their crimes because they represent the superpowers of the day. We live in a day and age where one politician receives judgment for crimes against humanity and the atrocities of another leader is swept under the carpet.

Most Africans worry when they hear that their nation is withdrawing membership from the ICC but most Africans are oblivious to the fact that global superpowers like the United States of America, Russia are not members of the ICC. Is God against justice? Absolutely not. God wants nations to set up systems of governance and justice to judge their own. Africa has a long way to go but Africa must rise and develop her own systems and allow the people that voted these leaders in to judge their own leaders.

Finally God is a God of diversity and He is against any form of oneness that seeks to overpower and bully the rest because of a false sense of unity. (Refer to Chapter 1 of my book “God The Ultimate Nation Builder” where I address “Diversity” as God response to flawed unity). Africa cannot have annual celebrations of independence but are still dependent on external systems to fix ongoing problems. The African Union should have a conversation broader than mere membership withdrawal from the ICC, the conversation should be focused on judicial systems that will work for Africa and her people. What good is it to withdraw but not have a response when situations arise? We witnessed recently in Gambia how The ECOWAS region was able to save the entire nation of Gambia from civil war and successfully transition the nation of Gambia for her new season. The time is upon Africa to trust Africans to come up with African solutions and there is definitely a solution to the ongoing debate on Africa and the International Criminal Court...