Implications of the African Union’s Stance on Immunity for Leaders on Conflict Resolution in Africa: The Case of South Sudan and lessons from the Habré Case

The article examined the AU’s stance on immunity and its impact on conflict resolution in Africa. The article observes that the AU’s immunity stance for sitting leaders undermines the deterrence and conflict resolution capacities of the African Court, as well as ad hoc courts such as the HCSS. Because of the immunity principle, the AUled HCSS – despite being developed without any immunity provisions – will have difficulty in upholding efforts to prosecute the warring leaders who instigated, organised and commanded the war crimes and crimes against humanity in South Sudan. This outcome is because the peace deal allows the warring leaders to hold onto their leadership positions. Based on the AU’s immunity stance, these leaders could evade justice. In view of the ongoing skirmishes, the warring leaders are rarely deterred from perpetuating the historical culture of impunity in the region, because they gained power through violence which bought them a place in the peace process. The impunity of the warring factions is evident from the defiance of the numerous ceasefire deals that were mediated by IGAD between 2013 and 2018. The HCSS would be likely to focus on prosecuting scapegoats of the warring camps as token attempt at justice in the region.