The Role of the ICC in Africa and the Inherent Tension under International Criminal Law

Publication Information

Journal Title: Asia Pacific Law & Policy Review
Author(s): Charles Okeke
Published On: 25/04/2022
Volume: 8
First Page: 24
Last Page: 55
ISSN: 2581-4095
Publisher: The Law Brigade Publisher

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Charles Okeke, The Role of the ICC in Africa and the Inherent Tension under International Criminal Law, Volume 8, Asia Pacific Law & Policy Review, 24-55, Published on 25/04/2022, Available at


Africa has recently become embroiled in issues arising from the International Criminal Court (ICC). The African Union (AU) has also expressed concern about how the court is targeting African leaders and believes that the court is infringing on African states’ immunity and sovereignty. As a result, this paper seeks to expand on the ICC’s position and why its relationship with African leaders may remain strained in the future.

Over centuries, the world has been at war with itself, and as a result, individuals and states have been accused of international crimes; these wars have given rise to international criminal tribunals to prosecute these individuals or government representatives, as the case may be. The roles of these tribunals and other courts will be discussed in this paper, as well as their contributions to the formation of the ICC in its complexities and, most importantly, its relationship with African countries.

The International Criminal Court was established in 2002 as the first of its kind, with the mission of trying individuals accused of international crimes such as genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes of aggression. Since its inception, the court has been at odds with the African Union, prompting some African countries to withdraw their signatures as members of the court.

Some other African countries that are still signatories have threatened to withdraw as well, seeing the world’s first permanent international court as an attack on the continent. Many African and non-African scholars have therefore wondered how the court’s relationship with Africa could be developed and how the ICC could be embraced by all as the true dispenser of justice.

This paper would look at some data through primary sources like online reports, legal documents and, other literature that have dealt with the subject matter; critically x-raying the position of the AU and African countries in the context of justice and the ICC.

This study will expose the negative reaction of African leaders that oppose the actions of the ICC with claims that the court has been politicized and designed to victimize African politicians. However, it is important to point out that some African politicians have used the court to haunt their political rivals, while few are of the opinion that it genuinely protects victims and punishes offenders of human rights.

Keywords: Africa, Government, Human rights, Immunity, Impunity, International Crimes, Justice, Sovereignty

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