International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Is Africa on trial?

Today, BBC news posted a short article that brings up a debate that we have touched on in the class. The issue is whether or not the ICC is biased because it has only indicted and convicted war criminals from Africa. All 24 people facing charges – and the only person convicted – are from Africa. 

The African Union has said members countries should stop cooperating with the Court because of what they say is a unfair targeting of the continent. 

Is Africa being unfairly targeted, or have the worst crimes over the past decade simply been committed in the region?

Here is the (very short) article. You can read comments from BBC News readers on the issue as well.


3 responses to “Is Africa on trial?

  1. Alana Tiemessen March 27, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    The “no” side is pretty compelling, the “yes” side seems pretty weak. It’s notable that Tejan-Cole distinguishes between the opposition of African political elites (many of whom are war criminals) and the general public and victim population that support the Court.

  2. rmalesky March 28, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Here is a bit longer of an article I was just about to post to the site myself:

    I believe this “Africa Problem” as the author of the Al Jazeera opinion article named it as, stems from the politics of the ICC. The ICC cannot indict people not signed on to the ICC (The US for example) and the Security Council does have incredible power in denoting who can and cannot receive an indictment so the politics of such I believe play a large role – Particularly when it comes to cases of strategic partners to one of the 5 Permanent Members of the SC.

    “The ICC may never have had the total confidence of its members, primarily because every nation-state at the Rome Conference had a wildly different image of whom the court would go after and for what.”

  3. brianumass March 30, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    There are sociopolitical issue that uniquely Africa more then other continents and may account for the heavy attention the continent has received from the ICC. Keeping in mind that several cases were self referrals…
    Colonialism: it is necessary to look at the historical picture. Although the colonial reach extended well into Asia and South America, the prolonged nature of occupation and/or the destabilization due to European influence naturally affected the economic strength of African nations.
    War: Africa as a whole as been riddled with civil and intercontinental war, also leading to lack of infrastructure.
    Political Corruption: a neocolonial byproduct but in addition to war, the illegitimacy of the governments affected the economic progress as the worlds economy continued to become more globalized and institutionalized.

    These three points are limited in their elaboration, but the main focus is the African problem as historic overtones which make it addressable by the ICC. The jurisdictional restraint of a country being “unwilling or unable” weighs in very heavily in Africa because many of the African nations are just now coming into a period of potential stability.

    The historic struggles of the continent illistrate the instability needed for these types of crimes and for the involvement of the ICC. I would argue that where there has been corruption and crime in Latin American, Asia, or even the Western powers, these countries have established judicial systems or have had time to develop the stability needed to internally address these concerns.

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