GBM Blog

The Nobel Women's Initiative Delegation to the ICC: Part 2 - Africa & The International Criminal Court

June 21, 2010 - 09:20AM
Published by Hannah Smith

Today's blog is the second of a two-part special from our guest blogger Kelly Fish of the Nobel Women's Initiative.

From May 28 to June 5, the Nobel Women’s Initiative took a delegation - led by Nobel Laureates Wangari Maathai and Shirin Ebadi - to the first ever Review Conference of the International Criminal Court.

Africa & The International Criminal Court

Africa was at the forefront of all discussions during the ICC Review Conference. Currently, all country situations coming under the ICC are African: Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Sudan, and now Kenya. The first three countries were referred to the court by the governments themselves, while Sudan was referred by the United Nations Security Council. Kenya is the first case initiated by the ICC Prosecutor.

In the aftermath of some of the most horrific conflicts in Africa in the 1990s - including Rwanda and Liberia- Africans were at the center of advocacy efforts for an international court to try gross violations of humanitarian law. In fact, of the current 111 states that have ratified the Rome Statute, 30 are African. African civil society has been playing a huge role throughout the development of the ICC. Over 800 African civil society organizations are members of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, representing approximately one-third of the global membership.

And yet we hear the condemnation of the Sudanese government and lobbying efforts by the African Union to encourage member states to forfeit their commitments.

So how is the Court not for Africans?

As Wangari Maathai has said, "good African leaders have nothing to fear from the ICC." Impunity still rules across the continent, but the people want their leaders to be held accountable for the crimes perpetrated against them.

Kofi Annan, in his opening remarks to the ICC Review Conference said that the "absence of justice emboldens the perpetrators." Further, Africans want justice in their own courts, as well as internationally when needed. Anan reflected that he is proud of the African continent's contributions, as a region that played a large, progressive role in the formation of the court.

Annan’s conclusions are that the ICC attacks IMPUNITY, not Africa. Justice is a partner, not an impediment to peace. The future of international justice is in the Rome Statute. All to say that, "Africa wants this Court."

Wangari Maathai on Africa and the ICC: