n Journal of African Union Studies - International criminal justice, the African Union and the International Criminal Court

Volume 1, Issue 2_3
  • ISSN : 2050-4292
  • E-ISSN: 2050-4306


The International Criminal Court (ICC) was established as a permanent independent institution to prosecute individuals who have orchestrated and executed the most serious crimes of international concern including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Rome Statute which entered into force on 1 July 2002 is explicit on the role of the Court in exercising a criminal jurisdiction over perpetrators of these crimes. African countries were actively involved in the creation of the ICC and played a crucial role at the Rome conference when the Court's statute was drafted and adopted. To date Africa represents the largest regional grouping of countries within the ICC's Assembly of State Parties. While African countries were initially supportive of the ICC, the relationship degenerated in 2008 when President Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan was indicted by the Court. Following this move the African Union (AU) which is representative of virtually all countries on the continent adopted a hostile posture towards the ICC. The AU called for its member states to implement a policy of non-cooperation with the ICC, which is still the stated position of the continental body. This article discusses the trajectory of Africa's relationship with the ICC and offers insights into how this embattled relationship can be repaired. Without bridging these differences, the ability of the Court to actively work to address impunity, which is also the stated aim of the AU, will be undermined across the African continent.

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