The International Criminal Court and Africa: Transcending Cleavages to Achieve Common Goals

In January 2017, at its Annual Assembly of Heads of State and Government, the AU decided by consensus on a strategy for mass withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC), and the continent is developing plans for its own transnational criminal courts. Although they share common goals, the AU and the ICC have developed competing approaches to achieving peace, security and justice on the African continent, which remains fraught with violence and conflict affecting civilians in several countries. Yet new forms of criminal justice mechanisms have developed in Africa and offer promising opportunities for renewed cooperation. It remains for the ICC to engage and collaborate with them in order to bring justice closer to the people, and ease the tensions between national sovereignty and the international criminal justice system. This could reunite both the political and legal dimensions needed to tackle the continent’s most egregious crimes.