The highlight from the recent contributions comes from Prof. Yash Ghai, the former Chair of the Kenya National Constitutional Conference and a former Special Representative for the UN Secretary General. Prof. Ghai argues that, although many blame the lack of a new constitution for Kenya’s current troubles, a robust constitutional text is not a sufficient guarantee against political violence. The absence of ethical and moral standards in politics means that even the most robust constitutional text will ‘not make a difference’, until Kenyans themselves imbue governing institutions with the appropriate values and principles. Another important contribution comes from Chidi Odinkalu of the Open Society Justice Initiative. Responding to the broader controversy about the ICC’s role in Africa, Odinkalu observes that the debate on international criminal trials in the African context has degenerated to a contest between ‘supposed imperialists and alleged impunity apologists’, neglecting important political concerns. He concludes with a number of suggestions on how to constructively move forward.
Other recent contributions focus on transitional justice in Kenya: Godfrey Musila’s essay explains how a power struggle within Kenya’s governing coalition has polarized and ethnicized the debate on justice, resulting in an incoherent transitional justice agenda; Chris Huggins makes a case for the centrality of land reform in the economic mandate of Kenya’s Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC); Charlie Khamala describes recent efforts by the Law Society of Kenya to strengthen the Kenyan judiciary; and Ndung’u Wainaina and Pamela Chepng’etich advocate for a Special Tribunal in Kenya.
You can also read and comment on the first round of essays: Dr. Daniel Branch asserts that blaming elites for Kenyan violence ignores a bigger problem of normalized violence; Daniel Waweru argues why the majimboist strand of the 2008 violence makes reform and accountability incompatible; Dr. Gabrielle Lynch lists a number of policy priorities to complement the fight against impunity; Dr. Tim Murithi explains why former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan handed over to the ICC the names of those suspected of the violence; Dr Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg links forcible male circumcision during the violence to the feminization of ethnicity; and Susule Musungu explains why scenario-building exercises are important in allowing Kenyans to move forward.