How Did We Get Here? An Overview of the Rise and Demise of the International Criminal Court’s Relationship With the African Union and its Member States

The contribution traces the tenuous relationship between the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the member States of the African Union. Subsequent to the adoption of the ICC Statute in 1998, 34 African States initially joined the ICC. However, what started out as a positive relationship generating several self-referrals, deteriorated visibly as of 2009. The contribution outlines and assesses some of the key developments that arguably contributed to this downward spiral. In so doing, it suggests that an inconsistent referral policy by the United Nations Security Council, ill-conceived prosecutorial policies on the part of ICC Prosecutor, as well as inadequate oversight by the Assembly of State Parties, played into the hands of some African leaders who personally had much to gain from weakening the credibility of the institution on the continent. It also suggests stronger regional ownership of international criminal prosecution as a way to improve the relationship.