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African Civil Society Stakeholders Call for Global and Inclusive Justice
Delphine Serumaga, Donald Deya, Chris Dolan, Dismas Nkunda, Deirdre Clancy, Fanie Du Toit
Pan-African Lawyer’s Union, International Refugees’ Rights Initiatives, Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, Refugee Law Project, Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation
17 July 2013
International criminal justice on the African continent is at a critical juncture: on 26-27 May 2013, at the 21st Session of the African Union, Africa’s leaders reaffirmed their concern with ‘the misuse of indictments against African leaders’, and stressed ‘the need for international justice to be conducted in a transparent and fair manner, in order to avoid any perception of double standard, in conformity with the principles of international law’. This was rapidly interpreted by observers as raising further question marks over the degree of political support for that most iconic mechanism of international criminal justice, the International Criminal Court (ICC).
When the failure of the ICC to sustain popular support in African countries in which it has sought to operate is coupled with shifts in global power relationships and the declining influence of former colonial powers, it is clear that today, on International Justice Day (July 17), we require a re-think on how best to attain equitable criminal justice.
As African Civil Society stakeholders with President Obama’s visit fresh in our minds, we believe that the time is right for a fresh look at what truly equitable and effective global justice should look like in a world of newly emerging powers, a renewed concern with the prevention of mass atrocities, and a growing popular unwillingness to accept unequal levels of impunity between states.
(…) We remind global partners that members of African civil society and local communities—from Sudan to Kenya to Mali—have been on the front lines of embedding and expanding the reach of international justice whether through advancing principles and standard-making or engaging directly with mechanisms such as the ICC. (…)
Building on Africa’s demonstrated record in pioneering normative developments on justice, we urge civil society from across the continent to join us in building an African Movement for Global Justice. This movement should not limit itself to democratizing the process of consolidating the ICC; it should also address the need for a global justice model that can address emerging challenges to existing mechanisms and principles, such as the drones, and that can incorporate key non-prosecutorial responses to mass atrocities, such as reparations, truth-telling, and reconciliation.
As civil society stakeholders in the development of transitional justice on the African continent we call on concerned parties to join us in supporting the development of Africa’s own proposed African Court of Justice and Human and Peoples’ Rights. This court will have jurisdiction over human and peoples’ rights, general affairs and international crimes, and will thus be positioned to tackle a wider range of crimes and issues that respond, in a more complete and substantive manner, to the African context and needs and will complement the work of the ICC. Join us also in supporting the process towards a comprehensive policy framework on transitional justice for the AU. (…)

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