Read Full Report at: http://www.issafrica.org/pgcontent.php?UID=30455
Intro to Report:
This African expert study on the African Union’s (AU) concerns about article 16 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) seeks to articulate a clearer picture of the law and politics of article 16 deferrals within the context of the AU’s repeated calls to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to invoke article 16 to suspend the processes initiated by the ICC against President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan. The lack of a formal reply by the UNSC to the AU request has resulted in AU member states deciding to withhold cooperation from the ICC in respect of the arrest and surrender of Bashir. In light of the AU’s continued concerns, questions have arisen about the UNSC’s exercise of the controversial deferral power contained in article 16. This culminated in the AU proposing that article 16 be amended to empower the UN General Assembly to act should the UNSC fail to decide on a deferral request after six months.
Although states parties to the Rome Statute have shown little support for the AU’s proposed amendment to article 16, the merits of the AU proposal must be considered. A failure to engage with African government concerns about the deferral provision could further damage the ICC’s credibility in Africa. Constructive suggestions about the ‘article 16 problem’ must be developed in order to contribute towards resolving the negative stance that some African countries have taken towards the ICC. The challenge is to devise both legally sound and politically palatable options. For many Africans, the ICC’s involvement in Sudan has come to reflect the skewed nature of power distribution within the UNSC and global politics. The result is that the uneven political landscape of the post-World War II collective security regime has become a central problem of the ICC.
It is also important to pay attention to the AU’s concerns and its request for an article 16 deferral of the Bashir indictment because the matters underlying the tension – how ICC prosecutions may be reconciled with peacemaking initiatives and the role and power of the UNSC in ICC business – are likely to arise in the future with respect to other situations. Solutions must be found to problems that may arise in working out the relationship between the UNSC and the ICC. The study therefore makes practical suggestions about how to resolve the concerns raised within certain African government circles and other developing nations about the relationship between the UNSC and the ICC, and the relationship between the ICC and peacemaking initiatives of governments and regional organisations.