The Logic of Nuremberg

Mahmood Mamdani

In March, General Bosco Ntaganda, the ‘Terminator’, former chief of military operations for the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity, voluntarily surrendered himself at the US embassy in Kigali and was flown to the headquarters of the International Criminal Court at The Hague. The chargesheet included accusations of murder, rape, sexual slavery, persecution and pillage, offences documented in detail by Human Rights Watch over the last ten years. Ntaganda’s trial, scheduled for next year, will follow that of Thomas Lubanga, the UPC’s president, who was convicted in 2012. There seems to be no question about the justice of the proceedings. At the same time, however, the UN Security Council has been pursuing a strategy of armed intervention in eastern Congo, using troops from South Africa and Tanzania, against the rebel groups Ntaganda and others commanded. Both initiatives – the prosecution of rebel leaders for war crimes and military operations against their personnel – are taking place when peace talks between government and rebels are well underway. This, then, is a co-ordinated military and judicial solution for what is also, and fundamentally, a political problem. Inevitably with such solutions, the winners take all.

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