Understanding Africa’s position on the International Criminal Court Comfort Ero, Africa Program Director, International Crisis Group
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Saturday, 07 July 2007 09:54

Conference on Peacebuilding interventions and strategies in Africa:
Revisiting the Liberia Peace Programmes
Africa Centre for Information and Development, Oslo, 14 October 2011


Over the last few years (at least from 2008/2009) the Court has seen a steady decline in its legitimacy on the continent. After an initial period of positive engagement (the first three cases before the Court – the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and the Central Africa Republic – were State referrals thereby giving the impression of State willingness to cooperate with the Court), the Court operates in an atmosphere of uneasy and tension on the continent.
There is no monolithic or unified African position on the ICC, but various factors have come to shape and define the continent’s position toward international justice and the specific role of the ICC in addressing accountability for heinous crimes on the continent. At one level, relations with the Court are distant and awkward. A level of defiance by Africa’s leadership, particularly at the level of the AU, has characterised the Court’s relationship on the continent.
At another level, the decline in the Court’s standing must not be misconstrued to suggest that the fight for justice and accountability has been lost. On the contrary, the struggle for international justice remains strong - witness the decision by Côte d’Ivoire and Libya’s new leadership for accountability and redress and the ongoing high expectations by ordinary Kenyans to see the Court as a tool for managing electoral politics, and tackling the wider problems of governance and impunity in the country.

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