This article seeks to understand the contemporary crisis in Africa’s relationship with the International Criminal Court (ICC) by going back to the Court’s founding moment. It investigates African states’ participation in the creation of the ICC, asking: Which kind of international criminal court did African countries seek to establish when negotiating the Rome Statute? To understand their vision for the ICC, the article provides an interpretive and systematic analysis of statements by African diplomats on the establishment of the ICC as delivered to the UN General Assembly between 1993 and 2003. Identifying and analysing the most salient themes found in these statements, the article argues that African diplomats sought to establish a court which differed in important respects from the ICC that became. The African diplomatic vision of the ICC centered on particular understandings of universality, participation, complementarity, court independence, and sovereign equality. Importantly, the creation of the ICC was never solely about justice; it was also about sovereign inequality and global order. The alternative diplomatic vision for the ICC makes sense of the contemporary critique of the ICC by the AU and many African countries. This makes the contemporary crisis both intelligible and deep seated.
Bibliographical noteThis is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in European Journal of International Law following peer review. The version of record Line Engbo Gissel; A Different Kind of Court: Africa’s Support for the International Criminal Court, 1993–2003, European Journal of International Law, Volume 29, Issue 3, 9 November 2018, Pages 725–748 is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1093/ejil/chy040. EMBARGOED UNTIL NOV 10 2019
- International Criminal Court
- UN General Assembly
- International Law