Current Deputy Prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, will become the next top Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court. What does this mean for the future of the ICC, especially with regard to African cases?
JiC poses the following question:
….. Bensouda becomes the first African Prosecutor at the ICC. This fact will almost surely garner the most media attention. The African Union has been adamant that an African candidate would be selected, and they got their wish. It will now be very interesting to see how the AU deals with an African Prosecutor. The AU has often expressed frustration and, at times, outright hostility towards the Court for what it, and many of its member states, see as undue bias towards African nations and leaders. Now that the AU has its chosen candidate, will its attitude and rhetoric change?
I doubt it. The African Union’s opposition to the ICC was never predicated on the region of origin of the prosecutor but on the fact that, being largely a club of dictators and pseudo-democrats, it wanted to protect its own. That will not change with the retirement of Ocampo.
In my view the ICC remains to be a powerful source of leverage for African civil society groups against their rulers who oftentimes are inclined to use violence in an attempt to hold on to power.
Without the ICC, all these groups would have are a bunch of great powers and former colonizers full of bark and no bite and who will turn a blind eye to murderous dictatorship in the name of cheap oil and other commodities.
I hope that the court will continue in its task of being a voice to the voiceless, albeit with a little bit more tact (by which I mean the acknowledgement that justice is, ultimately, political).