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Article

A Civil Society Perspective on the ILC Draft Convention on Crimes Against Humanity

Journal African Journal of International Criminal Justice, Issue 2 2020
Keywords crimes against humanity, impunity, aut dedere aut judicare, amnesties, reservations
Authors Hugo Relva
AbstractAuthor's information

    In a relatively short period of time, the International Law Commission has accomplished the impressive task of drafting and adopting the text of the Draft Articles on Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Humanity. The Draft Articles circulated to states are promising. However, a number of substantive amendments appear to be necessary if the Draft Convention is to become a powerful tool “to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes and thus to contribute to the prevention of such crimes”, as stated in the Preamble. Moreover, in order to avoid the rapid ossification of the new potential treaty, it is advisable for the articles to reflect the most significant developments in international law, and also allow for future progressive developments in the law, instead of reflecting a lowest common denominator acceptable to all states. This article suggests some revisions to existing provisions, new provisions which may make the text much stronger and finally identifies some important omissions which should be fixed by states at the time of adopting the Draft Convention.


Hugo Relva
Legal adviser, Amnesty International.
Article

The ILC Draft Articles on Crimes Against Humanity

An African Perspective

Journal African Journal of International Criminal Justice, Issue 2 2020
Keywords Africa, norm creation, crimes against humanity, colonial crimes, official immunity
Authors Alhagi B.M. Marong
AbstractAuthor's information

    Africa’s contribution towards the development of the International Law Commission (ILC) Draft Articles should not be assessed exclusively on the basis of the limited engagement of African States or individuals in the discursive processes within the ILC, but from a historical perspective. When analysed from that perspective, it becomes clear that Africa has had a long connection to atrocity crimes due to the mass victimization of its civilian populations during the colonial and postcolonial periods and apartheid in South Africa. Following independence in the 1960s, African States played a leading role in the elaboration of legal regimes to deal with international crimes such as apartheid, or in the development of accountability mechanisms to respond to such crimes. Although some of these efforts proved unsuccessful in the end, the normative consensus that was generated went a long way in laying the foundations for the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which, in turn, influenced the conceptual framework of the ILC Draft Articles. This article proposes that given this historical nexus, the substantive provisions and international cooperation framework provided for in the future crimes against humanity convention, Africa has more reasons to support than to oppose it when negotiations begin at the United Nations General Assembly or an international diplomatic conference.


Alhagi B.M. Marong
Senior Legal Officer, United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
Article

Relating to ‘The Other’

The ILC Draft Convention on Crimes Against Humanity and the Mutual Legal Assistance Initiative

Journal African Journal of International Criminal Justice, Issue 2 2020
Keywords International Law Commission (ILC), Draft Convention on Crimes Against Humanity, Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) initiative, crimes against humanity, international criminal law
Authors Larissa van den Herik
AbstractAuthor's information

    The International Law Commission (ILC) Draft Convention on Crimes Against Humanity and the Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) Initiative have largely run in tandem throughout their development. Both projects are motivated by similar gap-filling desires and both projects aim to expand the international criminal justice toolkit; however, these similarities have led to questions if both projects are necessary. This article addresses that question, looking at how different actors have answered this question during the respective processes of maturation of both projects and where both projects stand today. It argues that, while there is significant overlap between the projects, both instruments have merits which the other is lacking, and the optimal solution would be to bring both projects to fruition.


Larissa van den Herik
Prof. Dr. L.J. van den Herik is professor of public international law at the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies at Leiden University.
Article

Access_open African Union and the Politics of Selective Prosecutions at the International Criminal Court

Journal African Journal of International Criminal Justice, Issue 1 2020
Keywords African Union (AU), United Nations Security Council (UNSC), International Criminal Court (ICC), immunity, impunity
Authors Fabrice Tambe Endoh
AbstractAuthor's information

    The African Union (AU) claims that the International Criminal Court (ICC) is selective against African leaders. The issue therefore arises concerning the validity of the allegations of selectivity. Partly because of such concerns, African Heads of States adopted the Malabo Protocol during their annual summit held in June 2014. Article 46A bis of the Protocol provides immunity for sitting Heads of States. This provision contradicts Article 27 of the Rome Statute and, consequently, arguably reverses the progress made so far in international criminal law by giving priority to immunity in the face of impunity. This article considers the validity of some of the allegations of selective application of criminal sanctions by the ICC and the likely consequence of the Malabo Protocol for regional and international criminal justice. The article argues that the Malabo Protocol should not be ratified by African states until the shield of immunity granted to sitting Heads of States is lifted to better advance the interests of justice for the victims of international crimes in Africa. In addition, the complementarity clause stated in the Malabo Protocol should have a nexus with the ICC such that the Court would be allowed to prosecute the perpetrators of international crimes in circumstances where the African Court of Justice and Human Rights (ACJHR) prove reluctant to do so.


Fabrice Tambe Endoh
Dr. Fabrice Tambe Endoh holds a PhD in International Criminal Law from the North-West University, South-Africa.
Article

The ICC or the ACC

Defining the Future of the Immunities of African State Officials

Journal African Journal of International Criminal Justice, Issue 1 2020
Keywords ICC, ACC, immunities of African state officials, customary international law rules on immunities, Article 46A bis of the 2014 Malabo Protocol
Authors Aghem Hanson Ekori
AbstractAuthor's information

    The International Criminal Court (ICC), whose treaty came into force about 18 years ago, was highly celebrated at the time of its creation in 1998 by many African states, led by the African Union (AU), even though it does not recognize the immunities of state officials before its jurisdiction. Conversely, the African Criminal Court (ACC), which was established in 2014 through a Protocol by the AU, recognizes the personal immunities of serving African state officials before its jurisdiction. Accordingly, this article argues that both Article 46A bis of the Malabo Protocol and Article 27 of the Rome Statute are neither inconsistent nor violative of the customary international law rules on the immunities of state officials. It further suggests that the immunity provision in Article 46A bis may be an affront to justice to the people of Africa as long as the state officials are in office despite its seeming consistency with customary international law rule. Finally, in exploring the future of the immunities of African state officials, the article will examine the possibility of blending the jurisdictions of both the ICC and the ACC through the complementarity principle since both courts are aimed at ending impunity for international crimes.


Aghem Hanson Ekori
Doctoral candidate at UNISA, 2020, LLM, UNISA, LLB, University of Dschang, Cameroon.

Tamás Török
PhD candidate, University of Pécs.
Article

Civil Society Perspectives on the Criminal Chamber of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights

Journal African Journal of International Criminal Justice, Issue 1-2 2018
Keywords Malabo Protocol, African Court, Criminal Chamber, International and Transnational Crimes, African Union
Authors Benson Chinedu Olugbuo LLB BL LLM Ph.D.
AbstractAuthor's information

    In June 2014, African Heads of States and Governments adopted the Protocol on the Amendments to the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. The Malabo Protocol seeks to expand the jurisdiction of the African Court to international and transnational crimes. This development raises fundamental issues of jurisdiction, capacity, political will and regional complementarity in the fight against impunity in the African continent. The paper interrogates the role of Civil Society Organisations in the adoption and possible operationalisation of the Court in support of the efforts of the African Union to end human rights abuses and commission of international and transnational crimes within the continent.


Benson Chinedu Olugbuo LLB BL LLM Ph.D.
LLB (Nigeria); BL (Abuja); LLM (Pretoria); Ph.D. (Cape Town); Executive Director, CLEEN Foundation, Abuja–Nigeria and Research Associate, Public Law Department, University of Cape Town, South Africa.
Article

The Rome Statute Complementarity Principle and the Creation of the African Court of Justice and Human and Peoples’ Rights

Journal African Journal of International Criminal Justice, Issue 1-2 2018
Keywords Rome Statute, International Criminal Court, complementarity, African Court of Justice and Human and Peoples’ Rights, unwillingness and inability
Authors Muyiwa Adigun LLB, LLM PhD
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Rome Statute places the responsibility of prosecuting crimes recognized under the Statute on state parties and the International Criminal Court (ICC) and will only intervene when such states are unwilling or unable. This is called the principle of complementarity. Thus, African state parties to the Statute are expected to prosecute crimes recognized under the Statute. However, these African state parties and their counterparts who are not parties have decided to create the African Court of Justice and Human and Peoples’ Rights, which, like the ICC, will prosecute the crimes recognized under the Rome Statute if they are unwilling and unable. This study therefore examines the question of whether the creation of the African Court of Justice and Human and Peoples’ Rights is compatible with the obligation of the African state parties under the Rome Statute to prosecute. The study argues that the creation of the Court can be reconciled with the obligation to prosecute under the Rome Statute if the African Union, of which the Court is its judicial organ, is considered to be the agent of the African state parties, which invariably implies that the African state parties are the ones carrying out the prosecution as principals.


Muyiwa Adigun LLB, LLM PhD
LLB, LLM (Ibadan); PhD (Witwatersrand); Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria.

    Focus on whether a criminal chamber in a reformed African Court represents progress or retrogression relative to advances made in the Rome Statute shifts attention from the similar foundation of the two courts on an epochal bifurcation between the worst human rights abuses and quotidian wrongs. This bifurcation compromises our understanding of how abuses are related, what we should do about them and how we should go about studying them. It is at the core of aspects of the International Criminal Court (ICC) that have come under severe criticism. It also imperils the criminal chamber of the nascent African Court.


Ato Kwamena Onoma
Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa.
Article

The International Criminal Court and Africa

Contextualizing the Anti-ICC Narrative

Journal African Journal of International Criminal Justice, Issue 1-2 2016
Keywords International Criminal Court (ICC), security, African Union (AU), war crimes, international law
Authors Brendon J. Cannon, Dominic R. Pkalya and Bosire Maragia
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article critiques attempts by some in Africa to brand the International Criminal Court (ICC) as a neocolonial institution and stooge of the West. These arguments accuse the ICC of playing a double standard, being overly focused on trying African defendants, and warn that the Court risks exacerbating factionalism and ethnic divisions thereby threatening peace and reconciliation efforts. Although we neither defend nor champion the ICC’s mandate, we deem such criticisms as hyperbole. At best, they attempt to whitewash the instrumental role played by African states in the birth of the Court and ignore the fact that many of the ICC cases were referred there by African governments. Furthermore, the current African narrative understates the ICC’s potential to midwife local judiciaries and contribute positively towards conflict resolution in Africa through the promotion of at least a measure of accountability and offers of justice, thereby taming elite immunity and impunity in states where justice regimes are either weak or non-existent. Until African states strengthen their judiciaries to ensure such references to the ICC are indeed a last resort, the Court will continue to remain the only credible forum for states emerging from conflict and seeking justice and reconciliation.


Brendon J. Cannon
Brendon J. Cannon is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Khalifa University’s Institute of International and Civil Security (IICS) in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Dominic R. Pkalya
Dominic R. Pkalya is a post-graduate student at Kisii University, Faculty of Social Sciences in Nairobi, Kenya.

Bosire Maragia
Bosire Maragia is an Adjunct Lecturer of Political Science (African Politics) at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, USA and works for the United States Federal Government. The views expressed herein are his and do not reflect or constitute official US government policy.
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