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: 102

Full Length Research Paper

The contentious relationship between Africa and the International Criminal Court (ICC)

Emmanuel Okurut
  • Emmanuel Okurut
  • Sterling Afrika Training and Consultancy, Hatfield, South Africa.
  • Google Scholar
Hope Among
  • Hope Among
  • Department of Public Law, Faculty of Law, Gulu University, Uganda.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 24 April 2018
  •  Accepted: 01 June 2018
  •  Published: 30 June 2018


The International Criminal Court (ICC) established in 2002 under the Rome Statute with significant support from African States, which comprise thirty percent of the ICC’s total membership.  After nearly two decades in operation, the ICC has issued a number of indictments to both sitting and ex-African leaders.  The African Union has criticized these indictments citing that the court seems to be overly concentrating its efforts on the African continent.  African leaders have claimed that the ICC had ignored the atrocities committed by western superpowers especially in the various wars on terror around the world.  Another notable concern is the absence of these major powers from the membership of the Rome Statute.  In response for example, several African states including Chad, Uganda, South Africa and Malawi have defied the ICC’s requests to arrest and extradite Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir for prosecution.  The latest of such defiance was Rwanda’s refusal to arrest al-Bashir when he visited the country in March 2018.  This article traced the origin of African dissent against the ICC and examined its implications on justice for victims, international law, as well as the future of the court. This article examined some of the most prominent ICC investigations of African Heads of State and the criticisms against such action for example, state sovereignty and immunity of Heads of State.  The article also analyzed the role of the ICC in creating accountability for atrocities in Africa. It concluded that although the ICC has its deficiencies, it remains a very important avenue for ensuring accountability and justice for serious crimes in Africa. This exercise was achieved by extensive review and analysis of international law instruments, national legislation, textbooks, academic articles as well as reports pertaining to the formation and operation of the ICC.

Key words: International Criminal Court (ICC), African Union, accountability, human rights, crimes against humanity.