The International Criminal Court Colloquium: "Is it time to "Reset" the Africa-ICC Relationship?"


On 19 October 2021, the Center for International Law and Policy in Africa (CILPA), with the co- sponsorship of the American Society of International Law (ASIL) and the International Nuremberg Principles Academy (Nuremberg Academy), conducted a roundtable discussion exploring the possibility of "resetting" the Africa-ICC relationship.

This roundtable was the third in a four-part 2021 International Criminal Court Colloquium Series. Opening statements were delivered by Mark D. Agrast, Executive Director of ASIL, Klaus Rackwitz, Director of the Nuremberg Academy and Professor Charles C. Jalloh, Florida International University, Founder of CILPA.

Subsequently, a panel of distinguished experts, comprised of Professor Dapo Akande, University of Oxford, Professor Kamari Clarke, UCLA, Professor Margaret deGuzman, Temple University and James Nyawo, Lecturer, Kenyatta University discussed the question "Resetting the Africa-ICC relationship". The panel was moderated by Professor Charles Jalloh.

The panel analysed the current state of affairs regarding the relationship between the ICC and African states, whose ratifications brought the ICC into reality in 2002. The relation today was characterized by tensions, the perception of the ICC as a court targeting Africans and threats of withdrawals from the ICC by several African states, of which however only one withdrawal materialized.

The arrival of the third ICC Prosecutor, Mr. Karim A.A. Khan QC was seen as a chance to recalibrate the relation between African states and the ICC. The recent opening of investigations on other continents than Africa was highlighted.

The panel also discussed the stagnation of African initiatives to create alternatives to the ICC. It was noted that as of today no African state has ratified the Malabo protocol through which an African criminal court would be established. It was furthermore pointed out that the victims of crimes allegedly committed on African territory had welcomed repeatedly the investigations and prosecutions in Africa.

However, the fact that to date only nationals of African countries had stood trial before the ICC could not be denied. All panellists expressed the expectation that the new Prosecutor of the ICC would seek the dialogue in particular with African states since the regional group of African States still forms the largest group among the state parties, and that an improvement of the relation between the ICC and the African states was possible and should be aspired.

The 2021 International Criminal Court Colloquium Series will be concluded with the fourth roundtable before the end of the year.