Can Africa now tackle its problems on its own?

2012-08-11 14:24

August is Women’s Month so it is appropriate to celebrate the Decade of the African Woman through the achievements of two prominent African women, namely the chairperson of the African Union, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and the new chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda.

It would be interesting to watch the healthy institutional tension that should arise.

The incoming prosecutor of the ICC, Bensouda in her recent visit to Cape Town has made it clear that while the ICC is not targeting Africans, Africa is still very much the only agenda before the court and has been since its inception in 2002.

After the highly publicised trial of Charles Taylor and the hunt for Joseph Kony, the court has extended its stay on the African continent with indictments for the likes of Bosco Ntaganda and Ahmed Harun.

In Africa, the African Union has taken the decision to establish the African Court of Human and People’s Rights. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is expected to be instrumental in the functioning of this court.

The court aims to deal with security and human rights issues on the continent.

While violent conflict is declining in Africa, the court still has an important role to play in this regard.

Also, because the court has such a broad mandate it will be key in hearing and resolving border disputes and give legal effect to such resolutions.

Dlamini-Zuma has been an African nationalist in her outlook.

The time of African solutions to African problems has come.
Could this mean that Africa will slowly be retreating from the ICC?

The African Court of Justice and Peoples’ Rights has a broad mandate according to the draft protocol, while the ICC has a more limited mandate in that it can hear crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The stance of the ICC has for a long time been that it aims to protect victims of human rights violations in Africa.
With the presence of the first female chair of the African Union and an African court, maybe African women and children will not be needing extensive protection from the ICC and perhaps the organisation could loosen its grip on the continent.

The two courts will be competing for preference in matters relating to the continent, giving greater impact to the protection of women and children’s rights in Africa.

The ICC has always posited that its continued presence on the continent is for the benefit of African victims and to protect them from impunity.

Now it will be up to the African court to show that Africa is ready to tackle the challenges faced by the continent on its own.

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