African states helped to create the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2002. As a result of the violence that unfolded on the continent in the 1980s and 1990s, African states realized the need for an international judicial institution responsible for prosecuting perpetrators of gross human rights violations. They were instrumental in garnering support for the ICC. However, what began as a cooperative relationship between the African Union (AU) and the ICC has become strained. This became evident when some African states presented a collective withdrawal strategy at the AU Summit in January 2017. This strategy called for African states to unify in their rejection of a neo-imperial court, calling for states to subsequently withdraw from the ICC. However, it appears that African states are not unanimous in their rejection of the judicial institution, taking opposing positions on the issue of withdrawal.
This research explores the diverging African positions on withdrawal as a weakness of Pan-African unity. The lack of a common position concerning whether African states should remain or withdraw from the ICC is indicative of a drawback of African solidarity. This apparent lack of a common African position is detrimental to the AU in realizing an African unity. Through the use of a narrative and descriptive literature review, the study aims to trace how the narrative of withdrawal arose by outlining the positions of influential AU member states namely Burundi, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa. This method will take into account key events which have distorted Africa’s relationship with the ICC and altered the relationship amongst AU member states. Lastly, the disgruntlement of some African states with the ICC has augmented the AU’s creation of regional judicial institutions. This study concludes that the Criminal Chamber in the African Court of Justice and Human Rights is currently not a Pan-African alternative to the ICC.
Mini Dissertation (MA)--University of Pretoria, 2018.