Archive for the ‘Commentaries’ Category

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.




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Amnesty International, 08 June 2010

Amnesty International is today calling on states to reject proposals which could seriously undermine the integrity of the Rome Statute and deeply politicise the International Criminal Court (ICC). The amendments are being considered at the first Review Conference of the Rome Statute which concludes in Kampala this week.

Claudio Cordone, interim Secretary General of Amnesty International, said:

“States must first and foremost ensure that this first Review Conference strengthens the system of international criminal justice. The current negotiations are failing to safeguard the independence of the Court, an independence that was hard fought and won 12 years ago in Rome.”

Delegates appear to be moving towards a compromise that would authorise the United Nations Security Council, a political body, alone to control indefinitely which crimes of aggression the Court could investigate and prosecute.

Read Full Amnesty Proposal.

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The Age of Accountability
By Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary General May 27 2010
Twelve years ago, world leaders gathered in Rome to establish the International Criminal Court. Seldom since the founding of the United Nations itself has such a resounding blow been struck for peace, justice and human rights.
On May 31, nations come together once again, this time in Kampala, Uganda, for the first formal review of the Rome treaty. It is a chance not only to take stock of our progress but to build for the future. More, it is an occasion to strengthen our collective determination that crimes against humanity cannot go unpunished — the better to deter them in the future.
As UN Secretary-General, I have come to see how effective the ICC can be — and how far we have come. A decade ago, few could have believed the court would now be fully operational, investigating and trying perpetrators of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity across a broadening geography of countries.
This is a fundamental break with history. The old era of impunity is over. In its place, slowly but surely, we are witnessing the birth of a new “age of accountability.” It began with the special tribunals set up in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia; today, the ICC is the keystone of a growing system of global justice that includes international tribunals, mixed international-national courts and domestic prosecutions.

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From the Liu Institute: “The Liu Institute for Global Issues aims to bridge the gap between academics and practitioners. This blog, Reports from the Field, will offer information and analysis from Liu Institute researchers. Our first series is on the Review Conference of the International Criminal Court.’

Current Blog Posts:

Asad Kiyani: Africa and the ICC – Resistance or Cooperation? May 25 10

Adam Bower: What is the Review Conference, and Why Should You Care? May 24 2010

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OTJR has recently produced a new debate series on International Justice In Africa: http://www.csls.ox.ac.uk/otjr.php?show=currentDebate10.

Contributions Include:

11. International Criminal Justice and Non-Western Cultures

12 April 2010 by Tim Kelsall

As the ICC Review Conference nears, it is time to consider how best to create a form of international criminal justice that is culturally and socially appropriate in non-Western settings.

10. Peace, Justice, and the International Criminal Court

19 March 2010 by Sara Darehshori and Elizabeth Evenson

This paper argues that justice initiatives, and the ICC’s work in particular, do not seriously impede peace processes. The paper shows instead that remaining firm on justice yields short- and long-term benefits that contribute toward peacebuilding.

9. What the ICC Review Conference Can’t Fix

15 March 2010 by Adam Branch

8. Root and Branch, Tree of Life: Sowing the Seeds of Grassroots Transitional Justice

10 March 2010 by Andrew Iliff

7. The Standoff between ICC and African Leaders Debate Revisited

10 March 2010 by Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai

6. The Contribution African States Can Make to the ICC Review Conference

10 March 2010 by Valentina Torricelli

5. Understanding Africa’s Position on the International Criminal Court

10 March 2010 by by Comfort Ero

4. The Limits of Prosecutions

10 March 2010 by Okechukwu Oko

3. Inside the Minds of the ICC Judges: Will They Give Ocampo the Benefit of the Doubt in Kenya?

10 March 2010 by Lionel Nichols

2. A Note on State Policy and Crimes Against Humanity

10 March 2010 by Larry May

1. International Justice in Africa – Debate Summary

10 March 2010 by Lydiah Kemunto-Bosire

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Oxford Transitional Justice Research (OTJR) invites you to read six new essays for analysis from commentators and scholars of Kenya, transitional justice, and violence.

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.

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By Edmund Sanders, Los Angeles Times, 04 May 2009

What if the conflict many call the “first genocide of the 21st century” weren’t one at all?

In the United States, many see the six-year war in Darfur as a bloody campaign by a Sudanese Arab-dominated government against rebellious “African” tribes in western Sudan. Two consecutive American presidents and several activist groups have defined it as genocide.

But others, while acknowledging the severity of the violence, question whether it meets the legal definition of genocide. The United Nations determined in 2005 that the Sudanese government wasn’t committing genocide in Darfur. Human Rights Watch and Doctors Without Borders avoid the G-word too.

The International Criminal Court renewed the debate in March when it issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir. Judges said his counterinsurgency tactics in Darfur may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, but that there was no evidence of genocide.

The debate raises touchy and politically explosive questions: What constitutes genocide? Why does — or doesn’t — Darfur fit the mold? Has the label helped, or hurt, the people of Darfur? And what does it matter anyway if what has occurred in Darfur is viewed as genocide rather than, say, war crimes or “ethnic cleansing”?

Most agree that it has mattered a lot.

Read more.

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