n Institute for Security Studies Papers - Balancing competing obligations the Rome Statute and AU decisions

Volume 2011, Issue 225
  • ISSN : 1026-0404



The fulcrum of African states' discontent with the International Criminal Court (ICC) was the arrest warrant issued for President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan in 2009. In response, the African Union (AU) has taken a number of measures, the most controversial of which are the decisions that African states will not cooperate in the arrest and surrender of Bashir. For African countries that are ICC members, these decisions present particular legal challenges: on the one hand, states parties are obliged under the ICC's Rome Statute to cooperate fully with the court; on the other, the AU's Constitutive Act warns that the failure of a member state to comply with AU decisions may result in sanctions being imposed. After interrogating the legal aspects of these competing obligations, this paper delineates the international obligations on African states in respect of Bashir, considers the obligations on African states parties in respect of AU decisions, and presents two possible means of resolving the apparent conflict between commitments to the ICC and the AU.

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