Universalising International Criminal Law The ICC, Africa and the Problem of Political Perceptions

"The aim of this paper is to discuss the universal reach and aspirations of the world’s first permanent International Criminal Court (ICC), why the ICC’s reach thus far has been focused exclusively on the African continent, and how this geographic limitation has affected African perceptions of international criminal justice and is threatening to undermine – perhaps fatally, at least insofar as the African Union (AU) is concerned – the credibility of the ICC. It has become fashionable to criticise the ICC for its exclusive focus on African cases. Developing nations, particularly from the South, now repeatedly complain about the skewed power relations reflected in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Those power relations – and the imbalance of power within the Council – have come sharply into focus in the case of the ICC and the UNSC’s influence over the Court. After a decade of the ICC’s work, the UNSC has found the common purpose of referring two African situations to the ICC (Sudan and Libya). However, it has repeatedly failed to do so in respect of equally deserving situations in relation to crimes committed by Israel and, most recently, in respect of the crimes occurring before our eyes in Syria."