July 6, 2017 By Joseph S. Margai
An expert in international criminal and human rights law and counsel at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Prof. Karim Khan, has asserted that hunger is the new killer in the world.
He made the above observation on Tuesday at the Mary Kingsley Auditorium while delivering a public lecture for students of the Department of Law, Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone (USL).
The public lecture was attended by host of dignitaries, including anti-graft Commissioner Adi Macauley, Hon. Justice Dr. Abou Bhakarr Binneh-Kamara, who is also Head of the Department of Law, Prof. Sahr Gbamanja, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Fourah Bay College.
Also in attendance were law students who were keen to listen to Professor Khan as he lectured on the theme: “The World at a Crossroad: Does International Law Still Matter?”
According to Professor Khan, “The world is facing acute shortage of food and water, making hunger now to kill more than HIV/AIDS, malaria, cholera, typhoid, among other diseases. Because of hunger, many children are born stunted and that have affected them mentally.”
He said the gap between the “haves and haves not” continues to increase, noting that 3.3 billion people live below US2.50 dollar a day while 1.3 billion people earn US1.50 dollar a day.
“People are being painted as rapists and criminals. There is also a nuclear threat from North Korea and the moves to prevent a nuclear war, the September 11th 2001 attacks on the United States of America which was posing a threat for a Third World War are all instances that indicate that the world is at a crossroad,” he told his audience, adding that there was an escalation of extremism as people are being burnt alive in the name of religion.
The eminent international jurist noted that mosques have been destroyed in Mali and churches attacked in the Middle East, adding that extremism and suicide bombing are being misinterpreted as Sharia Law.
“Hardcore extremism is hijacking the Islamic religion. Christian, western, white man values are all human values. Our leaders are not making foundation for the youth. All they care about is to grab for their own pockets,” he said.
Professor Khan said that the world appears, on an objective analysis, not only on a crossroad but in a chaos, noting that there are laws in Sierra Leone, for instance, that prevent committing murder but people are still doing it.
“In all of these, international law matters. It matters to school, refugees, hospitals, and many more. It can not only save money but ensure that the right people are being elected into office,” he disclosed.
He further said that “if we need the international law to solve all the above named problems, it requires the implementation by honest judges, leaders, yourselves and people who are not corrupt.”
He disclosed he had been given the opportunity to lecture around the world, but that he was particularly honoured to lecture at Fourah Bay College (FBC), an institution that has produced leaders of distinction and has a rich heritage.
He urged law students of FBC to be ambitious and have belief as their ambition would change Africa and the world.
Deputy Vice Chancellor and Principal of FBC, Prof. Sahr Gbamanja, said the theme of the public lecture was topical, adding that, “we all know that the world is at crossroad and only the international lawyers will tell us where we are going.”
He disclosed that many infrastructural development was ongoing on FBC campus, citing the BADEA project, the amphitheatre, which was constructed and expanded by internally generated fund, and construction of a multi-purpose building, among others.
Head of the FBC’s Department of Law, Hon. Justice Dr. Abou Bhakarr Binneh-Kamara, said international law matters because it affects all and sundry, adding that the world faces a lot of challenges in implementing the international criminal law as it is being impacted by international politics.
Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law, Dr. Dante Allie Bendu, said Prof. Khan’s presence on FBC campus was to reinforce a previous memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between by the guest lecturer and the university.