International Justice

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Tag Archives: Africa

ICC’s Conflict with Africa

africapolitmapWhen the ICC was first created, it had the most support from it’s neighboring countries in Europe, and the second most support by the African nations. Today however, the support of the ICC by African nations has weakened and now some African leaders are trying to convince all African nations to withdraw from the ICC. Yoweri Museveni, the president of Uganda, is the one responsible for this idea. “I will bring a motion to the African Union to have all African states withdraw from the court and then they can be left alone with their own court.” (Museveni). The main argument behind his idea is that the ICC is not treating African leaders with the respect that they deserve. When the ICC first investigated cases in Africa they only went after reel leaders and looked the other way with the governments illegal actions. During this time period, many African nations grew their support towards the ICC. However, things started to change when the ICC started prosecuting both rebel leaders and government officials. One they did this, African nations started to go against the ICC because they were afraid that the ICC would prosecute them for their crimes as well. Now African nations feel as though they are being targeted and the ICC currently has 8 investigations going, all of which are in Africa. What will this mean for the ICC if they lose the support of a whole continent?

Discontent on the African Continent

Mills’ article, “Bashir is Dividing US” addresses the fraught and complex relationship between African states and the International Criminal Court.

Here a few questions to help guide you through the article. You can provide responses to any of the questions in the comments – an informal study guide for everyone. (A response will count as  post for the week)

icc-africa-leaders1) Despite their initial support for the ICC, what arguments do African states present against the ICC?

2) How has the African Union presented challenges and obstacles to the ICC? How do they want it reformed?

3) Mills contends that the unity of opposition to the ICC in Africa is a “façade”? What does he mean by this? And what types of tensions are reflected in the “arguments” among African states?

4) Are there other examples of African states conflicting with the ICC recently?

Universities in Cape Town Closed Due to Protesting Students


Several universities throughout Cape Town, South Africa are closing for periods of time as a result of protesting students clashing with police authorities. The photo above shows students protesting outside of the University of Cape Town (UCT). I found this article particularly interesting because I will be studying abroad at UCT next semester, and this school was forced to shut down for the past two weeks due to the escalation of disruptions. Three other universities have suspended classes as well. These students are demanding lower tuition costs and better living conditions at the universities, especially for black students. Many statements made by students include how their complaints stem from the title “black academics” being given to the black students, but white students are not called “white academics”, just academics. Protesting students complain that their tax money paid to run the university is reinforcing white privilege. There are escalating instances of violence among the universities between protesters and police forces. Police have been firing rubber bullets and stun grenades at protesters. In one occasion, a large amount of students were brutalized, victimized and beaten by private security guards and police when they tried to collect their belongings from inside of a residence building after being asked to leave the premises. Students plan to continue with the protests, calling UCT a “white supremacy institution”.


African leaders silent as their people perish in the Mediterranean. Could they be blamed for neglect and turning a blind eye?

The article discusses the widespread silence from African leaders amid a global crisis of many African immigrants being shipwrecked in the Mediterranean. As we discussed in class, when Gaddafi was in charge in Libya, he struck a deal with EU leaders to seal the ports from illegal immigrants out of Africa, to “stop Europe turning black.” However, ever since Gaddafi was overthrown, the cap that was keeping Africans in Africa has been removed.

Evidently, the blame can fall on both the European and African leaders for allowing such massive tragedies to take place right in front of them. However, the question at the end of the day is, whose responsibility is it to 1. make sure the illegal immigration is controlled and 2. prevent these people stop dying in the middle of the sea?

As the article notes, four of top 10 countries with most immigrants are Mali, Gambia, Senegal and Nigeria, which are relatively stable states with no war going on. Such a trend means that African leaders must look beyond the statistics of economic growth and actually figure out what is happening on the ground because clearly, most of these people see no future for themselves in Africa. Could the African leaders be blamed for being negligent in letting these tragedies happen? or is the blame more on the Europeans?

Amnesty International publishes report on Boko Haram

Today, Amnesty International published a new report on “Boko Haram’s reign of terror in north-east Nigeria.” Amnesty stated that the report shows that Boko Haram has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, and charges that these crimes have been treated with impunity.

The report contains background on the conflict in Nigeria, the legal framework for prosecuting them, a list of Boko Haram’s violations, and recommendations for different actors to take in dealing with the group. The report sheds light on the brutal methods used by the group, such as the abduction of women and girls who are forced into sexual slavery and forced to fight or the abduction of men and boys who are trained to fight or executed. It also documents the mass killings committed by the group through bomb attacks and raids on towns and villages.

The end of the report contains recommendations to the office of the prosecutor at the ICC on how to deal with Boko Haram:

  • “consider the information in this report as part of the Office’s determinations during the ongoing preliminary examination”
  • “discuss with the Nigerian authorities what steps the state is taking under its primary obligations under the Rome Statute to investigate, prosecute and adjudicate crimes under the Statute.

In its recommendations, it also implicates the Nigerian government for not taking the proper steps to investigate the conflict. None of the actors included in the recommendations have responded to these recommendations or the report overall yet.

Garissa University College Killings shock Kenya

A recent article from Human Rights Watch discussed an armed attack on Garissa University College in Kenya yesterday (April 2nd, 2015). The attack confirmed at least 147 dead and 80 injured. The scale of the event was Kenya’s worst terr04Kenya3-web-master675orist attack since the bombing of the United States Embassy in 1998 that killed 213 people. The Al-Shabaab militant group was responsible for the killings that targeted the students at the College. Al-Shabaab is an extremist group based in Somalia and the group is responsible for many armed attacks in Kenya that has resulted in approximately 800 deaths.

Regardless of Kenya’s efforts in the past to enter Somalia and put a stop against Al-Shabaab, Kenya is still a very vulnerable country that is prone to attack. “Kenya’s efforts to tackle rising insecurity have been marred by serious human right violations, including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, and torture by security forces” (Human Rights Watch). The international community should keep an eye on the violence in Kenya due to the fact that there has been discriminatory abuses of Muslim and ethnic Somali communities. Kenyan police also have to be wary of mistreating it’s own citizens while providing security forces after the attack regardless of the shock and anger they obtain.

An attack of this size shows the hostility and disdain for human life in Kenya. According to Leslie Lefkow, “To counter the threat effectively, Kenyan security forces should ensure a lawful response in line with human rights.” I agree with this statement, the Kenyan government has to be careful in it’s decisions on how to police this event and be even more careful in how it responds to Al-Shabaab.

Two Thursday’s ago the Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, apologized to the Kenyan people for the past wrongs committed by his and past governments. The apology was taken differently by many people, however, Kenyatta was finally taking ownership of the abuses caused by post-election violence in the ’07-’08 election. Perhaps the Kenyan people should all start to unite and work together under a cohesive government after this recent attack on the Garissa University College. The apology can be used to spark a unity in Kenya that is so desperately needed in order to prevent future terrorist attacks that are easily penetrating the country.

Kenyatta apologizes to Kenyan public for past wrongs

President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya delivered an official apology to the Kenyan public during a state of the nation address this past Thursday. He apologized for the wrongs committed by his own government and of governments past, mentioning the post-election violence of 2007-2008, as well as the 1984 massacre of hundreds of Kenayan-Somalis.

The International Criminal Court just recently dropped charges against President Kenyatta for warcrimes committed during the period of post-election violence because of a lack of evidence and cooperation by the Kenyan government. But, the report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Kenya “recommended that the president apologize to the public within six month after receiving it. Kenyatta received the report on May 2013”.

During his speech, Kenyatta announced that he had requested that the Ministry of Finance set up a fund of $110 million to be used throughout the next three years for “restorative justice”. President Kenyatta has yet to announce what exactly he plans for the fund to do or accomplish, but it is his first public apology for the crimes committed following his election.

The apology earned Kenyatta a standing ovation from the members of Kenyan parliament, although the reactions of the public have been mixed. Some do not accept the apology at all, while the majority tend to feel that it is “better late than never”. Apologies can provide the acknowledgement of past atrocities that is important for rehabilitation of a society and victims, but it will be interesting to see the true impact of Kenyatta’s statements, if any at all.

Many South Sudan boys ‘kidnapped to be child soldiers’


In December of 2013 violence erupted in South Sudan. Currently South Sudan is in a state of civil war. The civil war has displaced about 1.5 million people from the fighting and 2.5 million are starving. The conflict is between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir against rebels who side with Riek Machar. South Sudan has hundreds of cases of boys being kidnapped and forced to become child soldiers. Human Rights Watch has accused both sides of using child soldiers. The boys are abducted in Wau Shilluk by unidentified armed soldiers. The soldiers surrounded the town and went house to house taking boys 12 or over.

The use of child soldiers is recognized as an international crime. Last month it was announced that there has been an increase in the reported 89 children abductions, as reported by Unicef. Children, who were preparing for exams, were seized from a South Sudan school. It is possible the actual number may be in the hundreds.

According to the UN, 12,000 children were used as child soldiers across South Sudan last year. The government has stated that they have no control over the abductions, which are done by the Shilluk Militia, under the control of Johnson Oloni. Children as young as 12 have been spotted as child soldiers. The underlining issue that needs to be addressed is that children are being abducted from schools. South Sudan is facing international pressures and the actions of both sides are being closely monitored.

ICC Upholds Acquittal of Former Congolese Rebel Leader

Mathieu Ngudjolo, former leader of the Congolese rebel group, Nationalist and Integrationist Front, was once again acquitted on Feb. 27, 2015. He was charged with commanding a militia of fighters who in 2003 destroyed the village of Bogoro (eastern Congo) and in the process raped and hacked to death roughly 200 people including children.
The prosecutors on the case felt that there were errors on the parts of the judge’s during the first trial and that they had been denied a fair trial because, in part, they were not permitted to cross examine witnesses with Ngudjolo. The decision was ultimately upheld because the ruling judge felt that the errors did not affect the outcome of the acquittal.
The Ngudjolo case was important because it was only the second case the ICC handled and the first acquittal.
More can be read about this here.

The Gacaca court system in Rwanda

As we have discussed in class, three different court systems have been used to prosecute the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide: the ICTR, the national court system, and the local-level Gacaca court system. These systems have, on the aggregate, been quite successful in terms of the sheer number of cases they have tried since the genocide; however, there are still many concerns about the legitimacy and biases of the Gacaca courts, ultimately resulting in what the BBC terms, ‘controversial justice’ (BBC).

Immediately following the genocide in 1994, Rwanda’s legal system was left largely in disarray. In order to prosecute the large volume of genocidaires, it became clear that employing various court systems would be necessary. As a result, the Gacaca courts transitioned from settling only small local disputes and adapted to “a more conventional model of punitive justice,” which sought to “reveal the truth about the genocide” (HRW). In 2005, these courts began prosecuting the “thousands of accused still awaiting trial in the national court system,” to further their goals of achieving “justice and reconciliation at the grassroots level” (UN).

By 2012, the system of 12,000 community-based courts had tried over 1.2 million perpetrators throughout Rwanda (UN & BBC). According to statistics, approximately 65% of those tried were found guilty, and were subsequently sentenced. In these local courts though, it was possible to significantly reduce your sentence if you showed signs of remorse, publically apologized, and asked for forgiveness from your community (UN). Consequently, some called into the question the legitimacy of the courts— fearing that convicted genocidaires could deliver falsely “sincere” apologies in order to “return home without further penalty” (HRW & UN).

As the Human Rights Watch asserted, the expectation that the Gacaca courts would achieve “national-level reconciliation” in these few years was pretty far-fetched (HRW). In fact, a multitude of other factors caused people to question the legitimacy of these trials, including corruption, personal ties, and intimidation (HWR). Although the BBC reported that “many people in Rwanda” have credited the system for “help[ing] to mend the wounds of the past,” the Gacaca’s ability to promote justice and reconciliation has undoubtedly been challenged by these underlying problems (BBC & HRW). For these reasons— as well as the many reasons we have discussed in class— it is and will remain to be very difficult to assess the success of these courts for many years to come.

Sudan President Eludes Arrest

According to an article covering the unrest in Darfur, crimes charged by the ICC of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes have eluded the president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir. Although the ICC has issued two warrants for al-Bashir’s arrest in 2009, he is still involved as a high-ranking governing figure. Sudan even had the audacity to send the president to attend a UN general assembly meeting despite the severity of his charges. Not only does the Sudanese government protect Bashir, but also neighboring countries that have been asked to arrest him by the ICC have neglected these orders.

The UN estimates that the growing conflict in Darfur has killed 300,000 people and has made 2 million people uproot and leave their homes. The Sudanese government, however, puts the death toll near 10,000. These devastating numbers that represent heinous crimes are now being dropped due to the fact that the ICC has to move their focus to more pressing and tangible cases because that the arrest of Bashir hasn’t moved at a fast enough pace.

I think that the suspension of Omar al-Bashir’s case is a huge issue that the ICC has created. Not only does it not fulfill the justice that the victim and victim’s families in Darfur deserve, it also gives power to the African Union to abuse the ICC and to any other country leaders that perform atrocity crimes in the future. Since genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes can’t get a president arrested in some countries, then the ICC should probably rethink how they can get a more cooperative involvement in their search for justice.

Boko Haram: Who’s Responsible?

In Nigeria, an Islamic extremist group, Boko Haram has formed in response to the division between Muslims living in the north and Christians in the South. The group’s mission is to purify Nigeria of any western influences and execute this mission through extreme violence. Boko Haram has targeted schools most widely known as #bringbackourgirls, official buildings, and prisons, which in response has triggered the government’s military to intervene. But, the government’s actions in response to these violent attacks suggest that the government may be collaborating with the terrorist group. Looking ahead to when the people behind the atrocities are found out, it will be interesting whether the Nigerian government’s and military leadership will be charged with the war crimes, similar to a Mladic situation. Additionally, if the government is behind the atrocities, they could be considered to the degree of a genocidal movement manipulated by political elites.

Kenyans’ Domestic Perception of the ICC

Since arrest warrants were issued for Kenyan President Kenyatta and Deputy President Ruto in 2011, there has been much debate about Kenyan public perception of the International Criminal Court’s intervention.  In 2007 and 2008 political violence surrounding President Kenyatta’s election ensued– over 1,000 people were killed, over 3,000 were injured, and hundreds of thousands more were displaced.  The ICC’s decision to investigate these crimes now serves as one of the key points African Union states point to in their criticism of the ICC’s alleged “Africa bias.” Leaders from many African nations, but in particular from Kenya and Uganda, accuse the court of unfairly targeting Africans in its investigations and prosecutions.  Kenyatta’s case is one of two in which an active head of state has been indicted by the court– the other is an indictment of Sudanese President al-Bashir. Although Kenyatta seems largely to be cooperating with the ICC, his fellow leaders continue to be critical and outright hostile towards the court. A somewhat less examined topic is public perception of the ICC’s decision to intervene. uhuru+ruto+cabinet

According to recent reports, Kenyan public perception is split. An “element of fatigue” seems to be prevalent among Kenyans.  They are tired of what has become a 6 year investigation process. Most surprising, however, is that this “fatigue” is present even among victims of the violence. They are, “accepting the narrative purveyed by national leaders – that they should accept what had happened and move on.”  There is not public consensus, however, that justice and reconciliation are unnecessary. Many advocate for “justice in whatever form,” including, especially, mechanisms for reconciliation.  Indeed, because the alleged perpetrators are still in power, there is no question that victims must continue to live within the system orchestrated by those who committed crimes against them and their families. Potential public fatigue with the ICC and criminal prosecutions, as well as the entrenched power of alleged perpetrators, point to a severe need for serious reconciliatory justice.

Cost-Benefit Calculations: The Case of Bosco Ntaganda

Last week, the “confirmation of charges” hearing for Bosco Ntaganda, former Congolese rebel leader of the FPLC and the M23, for war crimes concluded at the ICC. The purpose of the hearing was to determine if the Prosecutor’s office, headed by Fatou Bensouda, has enough evidence against Ntaganda to continue to trial.

The case made headlines last year when Ntaganda turned himself in at the American Embassy in Kigali, nearly four years after his indictment was unsealed, and requested to be transferred to the ICC in The Hague. His self-surrender is an interesting data point for considering whether the ICC could act as an effective deterrence mechanism. Ntaganda evidently decided that participating in his trial and being transferred to The Hague was preferable to his options in the Congo, although his reasoning for surrender was a topic of much discussion. The M23 was fracturing, eleven African countries had just signed an accord signaling their commitment to defeating the organization, and UN forces would by the end of 2013 drive the group to surrender.

Ntaganda had lost, militarily and politically, so his surrender meant that he was choosing detention and trial at the ICC over…death at the hands of other M23 factions? Certainly he stood to lose a great deal of power as the M23 split. His claim of indigence at the ICC, despite his rumored wealth, could suggest that he was set to lose financially as well. (Or, it could suggest that he would like to try to hide his wealth in favor of receiving free and high-quality legal representation, which is probably more likely.) Some have also suggested that Ntaganda was pressured by the Rwandan government, which seems credible especially because of the necessary involvement (or at least complicity) of the Rwandan government in allowing him to reach Kigali. Ultimately, however, Ntaganda’s surrender indicates that trial at the ICC is not necessarily considered a significant punishment. Joseph Kony has of course protested his indictment vociferously, but in Ntaganda’s case, transfer to the ICC removed him from a volatile and dangerous environment in which he was on the losing side. If trial at the ICC is viewed as a step above military defeat, rather than as the ultimate humiliation, its deterrent effects are likely minimal

International Colonial Court?

In a Brookings op-ed, Mwangi S. Kimenyi wrote about Africa’s relationship with the International Criminal Court. Kimenyi opens with the background behind the controversy surrounding Africa’s membership with the ICC. Part of the justification for this is the claim that Africa is the region where the most significant crimes against humanity are committed and where civil courts are not equipped to deal with them.

This relates to the accusations that the ICC is subject to political manipulation, which the US is a large proponent of. This political manipulation also has to do with the sources of funding the Court has access to, especially seeing as “60 percent of ICC funding comes from the European Union”. Moreover, this criticism extends to the fairness and quality of the judges. Similarly, China and India have similar issues with the Court including the powers of the prosecutor and jurisdiction. 

The largest issue nations seem to have has to do with the Rome Statute and the UNSC relationship it sets up. India is a vocal supporter of the concern that the ICC is subordinate to the Security Council. 

Kimenyi concludes with a fairly pessimistic viewpoint that postulates that the ICC will not last the test of time and will continue to lose support. The jurisdiction and scope is far too broad and does not encourage mass support. To that end, I’m not sure I agree; there is definitely a consensus over the need for international justice and the ICC has at least set up the beginnings of that framework. At the moment it is controversial but I suspect that in a few decades the international communities relationship with the ICC will be more supportive. Regardless, the op-ed presents a concise summary of the many criticisms levied at the ICC and places it in an interesting context within the larger debate about international justice. 

Alain and Dafroza Gauthier: Searching for Justice

recent NY Times article profiled the work of Alain and Dafroza Gauthier, who have spent the past 13 years collecting evidence for the prosecution of 24 perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide who are now hiding in France. Their efforts have been successful; “Paris appointed five judges to investigate the matter of the Rwandan fugitives and opened a police section specializing in crimes of genocide. Next month, the judges are scheduled to bring their first criminal case against a Rwandan fugitive accused of genocide” (NY Times).

Their success illustrates how important individuals actors are to the spread of norms of international justice and the end of impunity (a theme explored in the most recent chapter we’ve read from Kathryn Sikkink’s The Justice Cascade). It also helps to understand the human toll of impunity–how an obsession for justice for family and a beloved country can lead two individuals with no background in law (he’s a former school principal and teacher, she’s a chemical engineer) to devote decades of their lives to an investigation. Justice for atrocities is more than an abstract concept–it has real value to victims.

This case also reveals the stakes of pursuing international justice for individual states. Rwanda and France only resumed diplomatic ties in 2009, and while these prosecution will likely improve ties between the two countries, “there is a risk the rapprochement could be set back if the trial results in a short sentence or acquittal. ‘The Rwandans would not be happy at all with that,’ acknowledged one French diplomatic source” (Reuters, 9/12/13).

Also interesting is the revelation from Alain Gauthier that perpetrators of atrocities in hiding “come across as pillars of society, be it as practicing priests and doctors. ‘They try to be forgotten,’ he said” (Reuters). Dafroza Gauthier explains that these perpetrators have “always denied, they have created another story, they have completely erased that part of their lives. They were obliged to do so, otherwise you end up in a mental institution. You can’t live with a crime like that” (Mrs. Gauthier, quoted in NY Times). It is chilling to think that individuals with so much blood on their hands could resume a normal life and take up a position of trust in the community, especially when victims have so much trouble resuming their normal lives and moving past the tragedy. Perhaps this is one reason why justice in the wake of atrocities is so essential–it forces perpetrators to confront their crimes and the victims whose lives they’ve shattered.

Kofi Annan tells Kenyans not to vote for candidates indicted by the ICC

Kofi Annan (the former UN secretary general) is urging Kenyans to not vote for politicians who are going to go on trial at the ICC. The vote is in March 2013, and two candidates, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, are going to be tried. (Earlier blogs here mention this alliance).

Both candidates are actually running together, in hopes of showing that Kenyans are united. Kenyatta and Ruto were both indicted by the ICC of crimes against humanity in the 2007-2008 Kenyan crisis. Ruto was also charged for corruption. Because of this indictment, most leaders of other governments won’t want to work with them.

Annan’s recommendation was based on the fact that a leader needs to be able to meet with other heads of state and be trusted by them. “When you elect a leader who cannot do that, who will not be free or will not be easily received, it is not in the interests of the country and I’m sure the population will understand that,” Annan said.

U.N. Peacekeeping in the Eastern Congo

This article offers an interesting insight into the myriad difficulties faced by U.N. military intervention, specifically in the Eastern Congo. As highlighted in the article, MONUSCO has repeatedly failed to protect the civilian population as per its mandate-the most striking example involved rebels decapitating civilians and parading their heads in front of an apathetic peacekeeping force. The litany of failures by MONUSCO is appalling, as per the article:

In 2005, MONUC (the former name for MONUSCO) expelled 63 of its soldiers for paying refugee children for sex. A separate internal inquiry the same year found that Pakistani peacekeepers sold weapons to militias in exchange for gold. While those incidents may be exceptional, TIME has seen in repeated trips to eastern Congo how, at the first sign of trouble, blue-helmet peacekeepers habitually barricade themselves into their bases, leaving crowds of several thousand refugees who tend to gather outside to fend for themselves.

Given the fairly obvious failures of the U.N. peacekeeping force to protect civilians, does it instead make more sense to focus efforts on alternative means of support? A large majority of the authors read and discussed thus far are concerned with rebuilding societies after conflict and devastation have occurred, not during. Given the inability of the U.N. to protect civilians through peacekeeping forces, what other means can be employed, or is it simply a matter of reforming MUNESCO?

Ansar Dine Allows for Humanitarian Aid Intervention

The Ansar Dine Islamist group in Mali has agreed to allow aid into the desert reason it has held control over since January, according to the BBC.  As one of three rebel groups in Mali, Ansar Dine has also expressed its desire for other groups to enter into peace talks.  This could help end the military-incited chaos that began as a rebellion in the beginning of 2012, and would hopefully lead the way for other rebel groups to promise a commitment to peace and to ceasefire as well.  I speculate that Ansar Dine might try to take political advantage of being the first of the three rebel groups to attempt to cooperate with the international community, and allow the planned 3,000 troops to enter Mali in the northern region which they currently control.  Regardless of its motivation, however, this will almost certainly help end violence and be a catalyst for justice.

Potential Dangers in Bias Claims Against the ICC

This article builds on some important concerns raised in Professor Tiemssen’s last lecture about the African Union and ICC relations. As highlighted in the article, there have been some major proclamations made against the ICC about biases it may have. On one side of the argument, you have certain Africans (i.e. several perpetrators) who believe that there is a bias against African countries specifically. This subset contends that the ICC is targeting Africans. They claim that the ICC is a “White Man’s Court.” Conversely, a crucial question remains: can the ICC help where human rights violations occur?

While in the article they reject these claims, in the age of racial/cultural hypersensitivity, I feel that these claims have the potential to carry much weight and spark unnecessary political action. This would be especially detrimental in considering the implications for the victims the ICC is actually working on behalf. According to the article, 33 [African countries] have ratified the Rome statute’s provisions, making Africa the most heavily represented region in its membership. Considering this large role African countries had in developing the ICC, what happens when certain African countries decide that the ICC is no longer an institutions to address their human right concerns? Which/Which will come(s) first: politics or victims?

Ocampo interview after finishing his term as prosecutor

This interview touches on several several of the topics that we have discussed in class including the US not joining the Rome Statute, Fatou Bensouda taking the role of prosecutor and the focus on Africa amongst other topics. Interestingly Ocampo was nominated by the FIFA to lead an ethics committee focusing on corruption. It is yet unknown if Ocampo will end up in this position but it will be interesting to see if even if he does not obtain the position, will he in any way continue to be involved with the ICC.

US forces join jungle search for Kony

In an article recently published by the BBC, the writer reports traveling from Uganda’s capitol city of Kampala to Obo in the Central African Republic.  The writer reports that there they are met by a few of the US special forces and identifies these as the ones that were sent to locate and kill Osama bin Laden; specifically Navy Seals.

Although the author confirms exactly what the United States has been reporting on the issue of finding the LRA’s leader Jospeh Kony in that the goal is to simply aid already existing African forces on the ground, it seems that the perceived notion of the local people is that US forces is different: “The man in overall charge of the US African Command (Africom) is General Carter Ham.  He emphasizes that US soldiers will not be out on patrol in the jungle tracking Mr Kony, but he acknowledges that this is what a lot of Africans think is going to happen.”

Is it possible for the US to respond to a humanitarian crisis and for the public perception to not be that they are the only answer to the solution?  In addition, towards the end of the article it is written, “The local betting is that Joseph Kony is more likely to die in the forest than appear in the dock in The Hague as an indicted war criminal.”

The Mali situation

The ICC warned Mali that it may look into crimes of killing, abduction, rape, and the conscription of child soldiers. The conflict in Mali arose when one group declared a Taureg homeland would be created in the northern part of the nation. The conscription of child soldiers is a clear case of crimes against humanity, and is one of the more frequently prosecuted offenses at the ICC. This could be the reason that the Mali situation has grabbed the ICC’s attention, even when their situation looks to be more like a civil war. Civil Wars not fall under the purview of the ICC. Coup leaders, though, have said openly that the opposing force they are trying to defeat is an ethnic force. They don’t claim to see the Tauregs as being separate from their ethnicity. Mali’s previous government signed the Rome Statue in 2000, and the ICC does have jurisdiction.

(The UN has not mentioned which of the factions in Mali would be investigated for crimes against humanity)

UN Peace Camp bombed by Sudanese Air Force

It’s been confirmed today that a peacekeepers’ camp was among the targets bombed in a border dispute. It was announced today that no one had been harmed in the attack yesterday, but there are conflicting reports and some say that civilians were wounded and killed.  The Sudanese government continues to protest and say that bombings such as these are not taking place, but it’s obviously not the case. If the level of aggression and blood thirst in this conflict as arisen to the level that even peacekeeper’s are targeted then how can it be hoped that a peaceful resolution is what is on the  minds of those involved in the conflict? Acts of Aggression fall under the purview of the court, so it seems to me that Sudan isn’t concerned with international reaction to them taking steps like this.

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.