Africans and the ICC: Hypocrisy, Impunity and Perversion
AFRICANS AND THE ICC: PERCEPTIONS OF JUSTICE, Kamari M. Clarke, Abel S. Knottnerus, & Eefje de Volder, eds., pp. 47-60, 2016
14 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2017
Date Written: October 27, 2016
This chapter interrogates the complex relationship between the International Criminal Court and African states, especially with the African Union. The paper argues that although African states constitute the largest bloc of ICC states parties -- and were enthusiastic supporters of the court -- they have soured on it. The reasons for this toxic relationship are many, but the bottom line is that the ICC has attempted to hold to account African heads of state accused of heinous crimes. The AU closed ranks particularly after the indictments of Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan. Led by Kenyatta, the AU developed a narrative that depicted the ICC as a racist, imperial white man's court intent on "hunting" African leaders. The ICC has not been effective in blunting this charge, and the West -- which supports the ICC -- buckled under this neo-colonialist charge. The AU's narrative gained traction because virtually all the ICC's cases are against Africans. But the chapter argues that these facts notwithstanding, the AU coddles and shelters African leaders responsible for mass atrocities against ordinary Africans. Thus the AU is hypocritical in its attacks on the ICC because it does nothing but advance impunity on the continent. It is a perverse attack on the ICC and international law by a cynical club of dictators. That said, the chapter argues that the ICC should address its structural, normative, and institutional deficits -- and tackle questions of hegemonic disequilibria -- to become an effective institution. The paper notes that the AU's views on the ICC are divergent from those of African publics who support the court.
Keywords: International Criminal Court, African Union, Fatou Bensouda, Luis Moreno Ocampo, crimes against humanity, Kenyatta, Kenya, Omar Al-Bashir, UN Security Council, Africans, civil society, impunity.
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