Is the ICC Harming Africa?

Many Africans have criticized the International Criminal Court for unfairly targeting African leaders, whom they believe should be tried by Africans. The recent election of the ICC-accused Uhuru Kenyatta as Kenya's president has only intensified the debate on the ICC’s role in Africa.

NAIROBI – The International Criminal Court, after facing harsh criticism from the African Union (and threats from AU states to withdraw), finally seems to be paying attention to Africa’s concerns about its approach to trying leaders charged with crimes against humanity. But is that good or bad for Africa?

To be sure, criticism of the Hague-based ICC is not new in Africa. Initially, the complaints seemed nationalistic in nature, with some people arguing that accused African leaders should be tried by Africans in Africa. Others have asserted that the ICC unfairly targets Africa, citing the fact that, so far, most indictments and investigations have been of Africans.

Most Africans ignored the ICC’s opponents, not least because the ICC indicted the likes of Sudan’s Omar Al Bashir, who is widely reviled for his long record of engaging in – and capitalizing on – brutal civil wars. But that changed last March, when ICC-accused Uhuru Kenyatta was elected as Kenya’s president.

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