The Center for International Law and Policy in Africa (CILPA), with the co-sponsorship of the Nuremberg Academy and the American Society of International Law (ASIL), organised a roundtable discussion entitled “Africa, the Ukraine Crisis, and International Law: Quo Vadis?” on 1 June 2022. This event was the fifth part of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Colloquium Series and was held via Zoom.
Wes Rist, Deputy Executive Director ASIL, and Klaus Rackwitz, Director of the Nuremberg Academy, gave the opening statements. Moderated by Professor Charles C. Jalloh (Florida International University), founder of CILPA and member of the International Law Commission of the United Nations, the following experts discussed various perspectives on international law and the use of force with a focus on the Russian aggression towards Ukraine:
- Erika de Wet, Professor of International Law, University of Graz
- Phoebe Okowa, Professor of International Law, Queen Mary University of London and Member-Elect, International Law Commission
- Mohamed Helal, Associate Professor of Law, Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and Member, African Union Commission on International Law
Significant points were addressed, among them the question why numerous African States have abstained from voting on the United Nations (UN) General Assembly resolution condemning the aggression of Russia against its neighbouring country Ukraine. This also concerns African States who themselves had referred situations in their own country to the International Criminal Court. The panellists pointed out that the diversity among African States necessarily leads to diverse views. Other topics discussed were the fact that the war in Ukraine was initiated by a nuclear superpower that also possesses veto rights in the UN Security Council. De facto, this could lead to double standards when assessing behaviour of permanent Security Council members with veto powers and other States. The current state of discussion on the crime of aggression from an African perspective was also discussed. The experts noted that the Bamako Protocol included a crime of aggression, however only 15 African States had so far signed the Protocol, while no African State had ratified it to date.
The lively and engaged discussion concluded with responses to questions brought forward from the audience. Given the importance and timeliness of the topic, the organisers look forward to a continued discussion of the questions addressed during the upcoming sessions of this roundtable series.