The International Criminal Court (ICC), governed by the Rome Statute, is the first permanent, treaty based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.

Since it’s inception in 2002, it has been the subject of fierce debate with detractors claiming “it represents nothing more than the neo-imperialist justice of the white man” and that it stands to exacerbate tensions and conflicts. Defendants have hailed it as “arguably the most significant international organization to be created since the United Nations”, claiming it has ushered in a new era in the protection of human rights.

In May 2008 the Court was investigating several cases – all from Africa: “Three state parties (Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic) have referred situations occurring on their territories, and the UN Security Council has referred the situation of Darfur, Sudan. Two potential cases were dismissed in 2006 (Venezuela and U.S. actions in Iraq), and five others (Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, and three that have not been made public), remain under analysis.”

We explore the legal and political implications of the court – its jurisdictional scheme, its legality, legitimacy and its implications for sovereignty and justice in Africa.

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