Representatives from more than 100 countries are meeting in Kampala, Uganda to assess the achievements of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and push forward proposals for strengthening its rules. The existence of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has curtailed impunity and has broken new ground on victims’ rights in Africa, the United Nations has stated.
According to UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, the existence of the ICC has forced governments to amend their behaviours. He said it had affected the armed forces, governments and judges in many countries, citing the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea and Colombia.
“Few would have believed then that this court would spring so vigorously into life, fully operational, investigating and prosecuting war crimes and crimes against humanity,” Mr. Ban was quoted by AFP.
But since its inception in 2002, the ICC has had five active investigations in Africa, but no-one has been convicted of alleged war crimes, however the existence of the institution has reportedly curtailed certain governments and leaders from outright war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Speaking before the delegation in Kampala, Mr. Ban said that the time had passed when the world faced a choice between peace and justice: “Now states had to pursue peace and justice hand-in-hand. In this new age of accountability, those who commit the worst of human crimes will be held responsible.”
Also, ICC’s chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo says he believes attitudes in Africa are changing, and that there had been a “legal revolution” since the Rome Statute – the international treaty that created the ICC.
“In Africa, what I feel is that there are some leaders who are trying to change, and some leaders who are opposing the change. And that’s the tension. Western media must focus their attention on this change,” Mr. Moreno-Ocampo was quoted by reporters.
According to analysts, one of ICC’s short-coming was the issuing of arrest warrants against serving government leaders. Some critics have argued that the indictment of such leaders as President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan was a deterrent to achieving peace in the conflict zones around the world.
The indictment of Mr. al-Bashir for alleged war crimes in Darfur forced the African Union to threaten to halt co-operation with the ICC.