International Criminal Justice in Africa: Some Emerging Dynamics

  •  Lydia Apori Nkansah    


The phenomenon of using international criminal justice to address war crimes and human rights violations in conflict and post-conflict situations of Africa has emerged. This consist of a platform which is anchored in universal norms, with a court which does not form part of the domestic criminal system, and which in some cases sits outside the geographical jurisdiction of where the offences took place. The adjudicators may also be non-nationals. This paper examines the experiences regarding the enforcement of international criminal justice in Africa as instituted in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the Special Court for Sierra Leone as well as in the framework of the International Criminal Court (ICC). It emerged that international criminal justice is meshed in politics and hence lacks the unflinching cooperation and support from the continent. The evidence as to its appropriateness for peace-building in conflict and post-conflict situations is mixed. The package offered by internationalized justice alienates both the adjudicators and the adjudicating society from the process, thereby denying the process with the impetus required for it to be beneficial to the end users. The implication of this study then is that the prospect of international justice in Africa is currently uncertain and its success would require concerted efforts by African governments, the African Union as a unified continental body and civil society organizations in collaboration with the international community.

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