The International Criminal Court and Africa : a fractious relationship assessed
International Criminal Court
M130 Public International Law
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AbstractFor many African states, the latest iteration of Western colonialism is the International Criminal Court. All the Court’s prosecutions have involved African conflicts, and the continent’s initially strong support for its creation has in recent years notably weakened. Leaders from Museveni to Kenyatta and Zuma to Bashir have excoriated the Court for its partiality, and only a change of government in The Gambia reversed a serious threat to quit its jurisdiction. Under pressure from Burundi and South Africa, the African Union has made increasingly militant noises about a mass withdrawal of member states. How should blame be apportioned for the turbulence of this relationship between the Court and the current generation of African leaders? Where does it leave a continent blighted by conflict, egregious human rights abuses and perceptions of the impunity of the ‘big man’ at the top? A research project, funded by the British Academy, has examined attitudes in civil society in Uganda and Kenya towards the ICC and asked whether human rights abuses could be effectively addressed by any other means. Researchers from three universities in Kenya, Uganda and the UK have interviewed judges, lawyers, NGOs, journalists and others about the ICC, domestic or regional forms of 'justice' (such as the putative African Court of Justice & Human Rights) and other transitional post-conflict mechanisms. The findings suggest that there is a high level of frustration with the performance of the ICC and, specifically, the Office of the Prosecutor. The article argues that although there is no one common denominator in the failed prosecutions, the ICC’s strategy has too often yielded the initiative to long-serving leaders adept at retaining power and that, while state parties see little hope of reforming the ICC and favour an ‘Africanist solution to African problems’, there is little agreement on what form that should take.
CitationRukooko A.B., Silverman J. (2019) 'The International Criminal Court and Africa : a fractious relationship assessed', African Human Rights Law Journal, 19 (1), pp.85-104.
PublisherUniversity of Pretoria
JournalAfrican Human Rights Law Journal
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