The International Criminal Court’s (icc) supposed “neo-colonialism” has been the focus of much discussion based on the fact that the Court’s Prosecutor has been almost exclusively interested in cases dealing with the African continent. This paper will try to go beyond the issue of a neo-colonialism as seen exclusively through a critique of the over-representation of African indictees. It argues that if there is a form of neo-colonialism at work it is down to more subtle post-colonial treatment of Africa through the categories of international criminal justice. One needs to situate the relationship between international criminal justice and Africa within a “temps long” of the introduction of modern penal thought and practices on the continent from colonization to the construction of the post-colonial state, particularly as seen in the exclusion/instrumentalization/hybridization of forms of traditional justice.
As implemented by some African States in a non-penal or even extra-judiciary approach of justice, post-conflict processes would certainly nurish international criminal law, which presents currently a very western, individualistic and formal character. In this paper, the author summarizes pros and cons of both (penal and not penal) reactions to « the worst crimes », and describes their legal articulation. May criminal law recognize its alternatives ?
his article offers an analyse of the first conviction by the International
Criminal Court, which declared Thomas Lubanga Dyilo guilty of war crimes
(conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen) and sentenced him to
14 years’ imprisonment. Expected for 10 years, this decision could have enabled the
International Criminal Court (icc) to confer meaning to its action in Africa, i.e.
to clarify the meaning of its repression. Alas, judges have interpreted the rules
applicable to the sentencing without giving it a clear meaning. Nor didactic neither
pedagogical, the first sentence is therefore unsatisfactory, or at least hard to
Given the closure of the Special Court for Sierra Leone debates about its impact have intensified. The question of the significance of the Court’s legacy is increasingly topical given its legal and political dimension. This article examines the notion of legacy in lieu of empirically assessing and measuring any legacy and develops a re-conceptualisation of the multifaceted process of leaving a legacy. It is argued that a deeper understanding requires a focus on multiple legacies as well as on multiple actors. The Court as legacy leaver has pioneered an institutional approach to legacy planning. Against the backdrop of ongoing construction its legacies have already become sites of contestation over the Court’s significance for Sierra Leone, Africa and international criminal justice.
This article provides a practical test of the various obstacles relating to the exercise of universal jurisdiction in Africa in light of the Habré case, by putting the spotlight on both the contextual and substantial specificities of the Extraordinary African Chambers. Contextually, it looks back on the decisive points that have marked the course of these « newborns » before the Chambers were able to join the category of internationalized tribunals. Following a comparison of different views regarding their nature and in light of the seven traditional criteria, this article concludes that these Chambers constitute an internationalized tribunal, even if they are the most “national” within this category. This contextual component accordingly ends with a brief discussion of the question of whether Senegal fulfills its international obligation under the Convention against Torture in prosecuting Habré before an internationalized tribunal. With regard to its substantial characteristics, this article examines the issue of jurisdiction and compares the different crimes with the existing legal framework.
The exercise of universal jurisdiction highlights a potential contradiction between fundamental principles of international law, i.e., on the one side, State sovereignty and non-interference in States’ internal affairs and, on the other, the fight against impunity for international crimes. Whereas the African Union has frequently affirmed its support for a robust system to fight impunity, it has opposed what it perceives as an abusive exercise of universal jurisdiction by certain States, mostly European. This article addresses, in light of the African Union’s main legal positions, a few potential limits that allow for a sensible notion of universal jurisdiction.