Bringing Home Rome: Explaining the Domestication of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in Africa
29 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2015 Last revised: 29 Mar 2016
Date Written: October 18, 2015
This paper presents an empirical analysis of domestication of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, focusing specially on African States Parties. Of the 34 current African States Parties to the Rome Statute, 12 have adopted legislation partially or fully domesticating the Statute by incorporating its complementarity and/or cooperation provisions into domestic law. The adoption of such legislation is significant insofar as it enables domestic prosecutions of the crimes -- genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity -- under the ICC's jurisdiction and/or establishes mechanisms to promote state cooperation with the Court in the conduct of investigations and the execution of arrest warrants; as such, domestication arguably represents a deeper and more significant commitment to the ICC than simply ratifying the Statute. At the same time, explaining the variation in domestication of the Statute by African States Parties can shed light on the controversial role of the ICC in Africa, particularly the validity of widespread criticisms of the Court as biased or otherwise anti-African. To this end, this paper tests the "credible commitment" theory of state commitment to the ICC. This theory, which was developed by Simmons and Danner (2010) to explain ratification of the Statute, posits that states with histories of recent violence and weak domestic accountability mechanisms (non-democracies) commit to the ICC to make credible commitments to domestic adversaries to ratchet down violence. I test the applicability of this theory to domestication of the Statute by African States Parties using survival analysis of quarterly data on domestication in Africa from 1998 through 2013 with approximately 1,100 observations. I find no evidence in support of credible commitment theory with respect to domestication by African States Parties. A brief case study of ongoing efforts to fully domesticate the Rome Statute in the Democratic Republic of Congo supports my statistical findings and suggests that, rather than committing to the ICC to ratchet down violence, states commit to the Court to employ it as a legal weapon against internal adversaries.
Keywords: International Criminal Court, international law, domestication
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