John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

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ICC Plans to Prosecute Kenyan Politicians

by John Campbell
December 15, 2010

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has gone public with his intention to prosecute five senior Kenyan political figures for crimes against humanity associated with the 2007 elections. While this is a highly positive step with respect to breaking down a culture of impunity among senior African political figures, many African politicians across the continent will not welcome this. Sub-Saharan African opinion in general puts a premium on “African solidarity,” and African media and political figures have already accused the prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, an Argentine lawyer, of an undue focus on their continent. Many Africans have objected to his efforts to prosecute Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan for genocide.

(Photos: Thomas Mukoya/ courtesy Reuters)

Post a Comment 3 Comments

  • Posted by Ihab ElBadawy

    A good presidence from the ICC, that could give legitimacy to future US vocal interventions in similar situations. If the door is opened: The outcome & the results could be implemented else where.(sent from my iPhone)

  • Posted by Mike

    Events like the ’07 Kenyan elections and the ’10 elections in Cote D’Ivoire seem like obvious times for the African Union to step in and “self-police” the continent, if you will. Why doesn’t the AU assert itself in this way and keep the matter out of “international” or “western” courts?

  • Posted by John Campbell

    It is true that the African Union has gone further than other international organizations in advocating limits to state sovereignty. But, I think there are two, broad limitations to the African Union acting as the continent’s policeman. The first is institutional weakness and lack of capacity. The African Union has no military or police forces of its own, and it is still in the process of developing necessary bureaucratic structures. Second, there are limits to the general political will to intervene in the internal affairs of another African state. Regional organizations, such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), may be better placed to carry out these ‘police’ functions. ECOWAS was remarkably successful in resolving a number of crises in Wes Africa — but only when it was led firmly by Nigeria. Now, with Nigeria distracted by internal issues, ECOWAS appears to be less active.

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