The ICC and Africa - Between Aspiration and Reality

Published 24 February 2014

This Discussion Paper reflects on the main arguments and perspectives that emerged from a High-level Roundtable co-hosted by The Brenthurst Foundation and the Africa Center for Strategic Studies in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 18–19 March 2014.

The Paper identifies three key themes that percolated throughout the debate on the International Criminal Court’s increasingly contested role in Africa, underlined by the absence of indictments outside Africa since the Court’s inception in 2002 and the recent prosecutions of Kenya’s newly-elected President and Deputy President: the interaction of geopolitics and international justice, which speaks to issues of history, colonialism and power; the continuing primacy of politics at the national level, which explains that in tackling the core problem of justice, the rule of law is one component of African solutions to wider economic and political problems, not the other way around; and the importance of building intra-African justice mechanisms.

The final section of the Paper delineates some of the key features of the vital intra-African conversation taking shape on the nexus of justice, peace and the exercise of power. This emerging conversation is prompted in large part by the controversy over the Kenyan cases and was powerfully in evidence over the course of the two-day roundtable.

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