The stake in Simone and Laurent Gbagbo indictment

From Treat Greed in Africa as a War Crime, by Kamari Maxine Clarke.

The indictments of the Gbagbos are welcome, but they don’t bring the court any closer to confronting the fundamental causes of the violence that has plagued Ivory Coast — and most of sub-Saharan African — for centuries. Colonial rule, and the military takeovers and suppression of democratic movements that followed it, have contributed enormously to the misery. But even those legacies are not the root cause.

Violence in Africa begins with greed — the discovery and extraction of natural resources like oil, diamonds and gas — and continues to be fed by struggles for control of energy, minerals, food and other commodities. The court needs the power to punish those who profit from those struggles.


For all its deficiencies, the I.C.C. — which in 10 years has achieved just a single conviction, that of a Congolese warlord last year — has a global reach and responsibility as the world’s first permanent war-crimes tribunal. Holding government officials and their inner circles accountable is a step toward justice, but the pursuit cannot end there. The Gbagbos, however heinous their alleged crimes, were ultimately figureheads in a vast and unregulated system of extractive capitalism.

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