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Public Lecture: the ICC and Africa - The Contribution of Justice Towards Peace and Stability in the Continent

The speaker also insisted that accusing the ICC of targeting African leaders (or serving Western agendas) is misleading and dismissive of victims of atrocities in Africa. In this regard, Judge Eboe-Osuji recalled that some of the most robust supporters of the ICC are African countries, including Nigeria and Botswana.

News

19 June 2019

On 13 June, the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) and the International Criminal Court (ICC) hosted a public lecture on Africa and the ICC: The Contribution of Justice towards Peace and Sustainability in the Continent. The guest speaker was Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji, President of the Court, Appeals Division.

 

Focusing on the impact of armed conflict on infrastructure, health and education, Judge Eboe-Osuji highlighted the importance of rule of law for development, a linkage that is often under-appreciated when assessing sustainable peace and stability. In this light, the ICC has a central role to play in achieving positive peace by providing citizens with the ability to hold criminal leaders accountable for their act. Recalling the history of the ICC’s creation, Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji described the ICC as an evolving body that adapts to paradigmatic changes in international law. In recent years, the ICC enacted a normative shift from punitive justice (which prevailed in Yugoslavia or Rwanda) to reparative justice.

 

The speaker also insisted that accusing the ICC of targeting African leaders  (or serving Western agendas) is misleading and dismissive of victims of atrocities in Africa. In this regard, Judge Eboe-Osuji recalled that some of the most robust supporters of the ICC are African countries, including Nigeria and Botswana.

 

Among the questions raised by the audience was the increasing recognition of rape as a weapon of war, as well as the role of regional courts/ad-hoc arrangements in international law. While acknowledging the possible benefits of implementing the AU Court of Justice, Judge Eboe-Osuji stressed the crucial role of the ICC as an international and last-resort body, which cannot be replaced by a regional court. He also highlighted that the ICC’s permanent presence ultimately makes the ICC more efficient than ad-hoc courts, which require costly and time-consuming negotiations. In response to the audience’s concerns about potential biases stemming from the UNSC’s ability to refer cases to the ICC, the judge highlighted that UNSC referral is only one of multiples ways to open a case with the ICC. He especially noted that , in addition to states, individual citizens have a central role to play in supporting the ICC’s mission.

 

“If we take the point of view of victims of atrocities, the accusation that Africa is unfairly targeted by the ICC does not hold”

 

“Preventing conflict and atrocities through rule of law has far-reaching significance for all levels of human rights”

 

“It is not only up to states to support the ICC’s mission - each of us, as citizens with individual rights and responsibilities, has a role to play”

 

“Investing in justice is investing in peace and security”

 

“Trying to achieve peace without justice equates to putting plaster on a wound without healing it”

 

Overall, the public lecture was an opportunity to discuss the importance of the ICC in bringing justice for African victims and in fighting against impunity for international crimes, countering the common perception that the ICC is unfairly targeting the continent.

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