Some readers may wonder why I chose to write my column this week about the International Criminal Court, rather than the obvious subject – the G8 meeting in Japan.
The reason is that I had a thoroughly discouraging lunch with my colleague, Alan Beattie. When I mentioned that I might write about the G8, he said – “Let me guess, you will say…” and proceeded to reel off a string of cliches, which had indeed been the basis of my putative column.
Alan then forwarded me a generic column on international institutions that he has written. It really says it all – and I think I may simply reproduce it, every year, round about G8 time.
It goes as follows:
By reporters everywhere
An ineffectual international organisation yesterday issued a stark warning about a situation it has absolutely no power to change, the latest in a series of self-serving interventions by toothless intergovernmental bodies.
“We are seriously concerned about this most serious outbreak of seriousness,” said the head of the institution, either a former minister from a developing country or a mid-level European or American bureaucrat. “This is a wake-up call to the world. They must take on board the vital message that my organisation exists.”
Last Friday was a big day at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Jean-Pierre Bemba, former vice-president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was charged with multiple counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Resplendent in a grey suit and red tie, Mr Bemba looked like a respectable statesman. But he is charged with grave crimes, including the use of mass rape as an instrument of war. Read more
So much for a “fresh start” between Britain and Russia, in the Medvedev era. It sounds like Gordon Brown and President Medvedev had a pretty disastrous meeting yesterday.
There is a striking contrast between the way the Russians are willing to deal with the British and their treatment of the Americans. Put bluntly, the Russians seem happy to beat up on the British and are much more careful to maintain a reasonably friendly relationship with the Bush administration.
It is true that there are some very tricky issues between Russia and Britain – the BP row, the legacy of the Litvinenko murder and so on. But the Russians also have serious disputes with America – over missile defence, Nato expansion etc. I’m afraid it may simply be that it is easier to bully Gordon Brown’s Britain than George Bush’s America. In fact, I wonder whether Britain might not be becoming a surrogate for Russian anti-American feeling? Read more