Journal of
Law and Conflict Resolution

  • Abbreviation: J. Law Conflict. Resolut
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2006-9804
  • DOI: 10.5897/JLCR
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 95

Full Length Research Paper

International adjudication and resolution of armed conflicts in the Africa’s great lakes: A focus on the DRC conflict

Andrew Mollel
Faculty of Law, Economics and Business Administration, University of Joensuu, Finland.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 22 May 2009
  •  Published: 30 June 2009



The duty of states to settle their disputes peacefully and in accordance with international law is emphasized in a number of important provisions enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and state practices. Adjudication is one among a range of existing means of pacific settlement of disputes. This article analyses the role of international adjudication in conflict resolution. With the focus on the DRC conflict, the article critically examines the role of such international judicial bodies as the ICJ, the ad hoc International Criminal Tribunals-the ICTFY and ICTR, the International Criminal Court (ICC), and other judicial bodies involved in resolving armed conflicts. The ICJ decision in the Case Concerning Armed Activities in the Territory of the Congo, the ongoing case of Thomas Lubanga before the ICC, and cases from other international judicial tribunals were taken as case studies, to argue that much as the adjudicatory role of international judicial bodies is a crucial method in pacific settlement of international disputes, it is unlikely to suit armed conflicts situations. The article points to the preclusion of the ICJ from adjudicating the other cases brought by the DRC against Rwanda and Burundi as an illustration of jurisdictional limitations of judicial bodies in adjudication of armed conflicts situations. It however, stresses that the very outcome of the 2005 ICJ decision in the Democratic Republic of Congo vs. Uganda case is another clear limb of such shortcomings. Without getting into detailed discussions of theories of compliance with international law, the article further discusses the question of compliance with decisions of international judicial bodies, in the light of previous state practices. Since there are no established enforcement mechanisms in the international system akin to those in national legal systems, the question whether such decisions are complied with, remains at the mercy of condemned states. In the final analyses, the author points to the current weaknesses and limitations of the international legal system as a whole, in the administration of justice generally, and in the adjudication of armed conflicts in particular.


Key words: International adjudication, great lakes, democratic republic of Congo, armed conflict.