Is the ICC a tool of western imperialism in Africa?

Is the ICC targeting Africa inappropriately or are there sound reasons and justifications for why most of the situations under investigation, and all prosecutions, happens to be in Africa? Can the anti-ICC rhetoric in Africa be explained by other political mechanisms on the continent, such as the creation of an African Criminal Court granting immunity to sitting heads of states?

African countries, as it is well know, were among the earliest supporters of the ICC, and at present 34 African states have ratified the treaty. However, after a decade of exclusive focus on Africa and failure to investigate equally severe conflicts and obvious violations on other continents, the court is facing a serious legitimacy crisis in Africa.

Three key African states have announced their withdrawal from the court, and the question of an African “mass exodus” is expected to be on table in the next AU summit taking place in January 2017. Yet, several member states on the continent have declared their support for the ICC in the wake of the recent withdrawals, pointing out that withdrawal would undermine victims and the global fight for impunity. How can the states different opinions on ICC-membership be explained?

In this seminar Sofie A. E. Høgestøl, PhD researcher at the Norwegian Centre of Human Rights, will present her analysis of the veracity of the Africa-bias allegations by examining the ICC’s current practice of selecting situations, as well as by placing the debate within the broader context of international criminal tribunals and conflict selectivity. After her presentation, Ingvild Aagedal Skage (Postdocoral Fellow at the Department of Comparative Politics, UiB) and Elling N. Tjønneland (Senior Researcher at CMI) will take a closer look at the political landscapes in Kenya and South Africa – examining alternative explanations and motives for the growing discontent with the ICC on the continent. We encourage the audience to raise question and share their thoughts on the topic.

The event is open and free to all.