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Yesterday 15 November 2013 a resolution sponsored by the African members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) (Rwanda, Togo and Morocco) was tabled for vote in the UNSC. Not unexpectedly, the proposed resolution did not receive the minimum nine ‘yes’ votes needed for its approval. While China, Russia, Pakistan and Azerbaijan joined the African members in support of the resolution, the U.S., Britain, France, Guatemala, Argentina, Australia, Luxembourg and South Korea abstained.

Despite the fact that the draft resolution did not receive the required number of support, none of the UNSC members voted against it. It is remarkable that the resolution failed to pass not because any one voted against it but because most members abstained from voting. While this is of no material consequence, it may be taken as suggesting that none of the members wanted to oppose it openly. As the previous post indicated it is rare that a draft resolution failed to pass without being vetoed but for lack of receiving the nine votes required for its adoption.

The failure of this draft resolution was not unexpected. From the information I obtained, the proposed resolution was tabled for vote with full knowledge that it might not receive the required number of support for its to pass. Armed with the information that African members were given during their consultations with western counterparts that the International Criminal Court would accept Uhuru Kenyata’s request for postponement of trial long before the court took its decision on the request, they persisted with the demand arguing that the issue is preeminently a political one. From this as well as the way the draft resolution was introduced for vote in the UNSC, this has been an exercise about making political statements. African members believed that the exercise exhibits the hypocrisy of the countries opposing the resolution and indeed how they continue to frustrate ‘African common position’.

Indeed, in introducing the draft resolution for vote, African members held the position that the vote was about whether members of the UNSC are for or against Africa. Accordingly, the outcome of the vote triggered strong reaction from African members.  Rwanda’s U.N. Ambassador Eugene Richard Gasana said ‘It will be written today in history that the Security Council failed Kenya and Africa.’ Ambassador Tekeda Alemu of Ethiopia, which is the current chair of the AU, expressed AU’s position saying that opponents of a delay are wrong — and they have offended Africa and shown a lack of trust in African leaders.

Both the campaign leading to the introduction of the draft resolution for vote and the strong reactions of African members to the outcome of the vote has deepened the disagreement over ICC.

The next site where this disagreement would feature is at the meeting of the Assembly of States Party to the Rome Statute set to take place in the Hague at the end of the month. Major issues that African states parties would raise include the prosecution of serving and acting heads of state/government and the implementation of attendance at trial through video links.

Attention would also now turn to deciding on holding the summit that was envisaged in the 12 October 2013 Extraordinary summit decision. If this follow up summit is going to take place as envisaged, it would appraise the progress made in the implementation of the 12 October decisions and consider what additional measures, if any, need to be adopted in the light of the developments since. While the understanding is that AU members may take far reaching decisions than the ones adopted on 12 October, it is unlikely that such decision would include mass withdrawal.