Posts Tagged African Union

Some Quick Thoughts About Africa, the Crime of Terrorism and the Rome Statute

As readers may know, I have been paying particular attention to the African Union’s attempt to put together a comprehensive counter-terrorism treaty, and have already posted some thoughts on the matter on the al-Wasat blog a few days before Christmas.

A few more thoughts occurred to me today as I was reading (for my current employer) the statements given by delegations to the Ninth Assembly of States Parties of the International Criminal Court, which took place last month in New York. I still have a handful to go through, but so far the delegation from Nigeria’s statement (PDF file) has particularly caught my attention.

From the third paragraph of the statement, I quote and emphasize:

One significant contribution of our common efforts in developing an international criminal justice under the Rome Statute is the strengthening of the international community, acting in concert, to check the activities of armed non-state actors. As we all know, these are usually armed groups that operate outside state control or authority, often constituting threats to corporate existence of their victim states through operational styles marked by horrendous acts of impunity.

I was intrigued by the mention of ‘armed non-state actors’, also known as non-State armed groups. Of course, that term means many things. In fact, it is fairly self-explanatory: any armed group that is not under the direct control of a State is, logically, a non-State armed group.

But as I read that I subconsciously understood “terrorist groups” and that has brought me back to what I wrote last month. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Wasat & My Guest Post On The African Union and Terrorism

I have been meaning to make the promotion of a recently created blog on North Africa and the Middle East, al-Wasat, edited by my good Twitter friends Andrew Lebovich (@tweetsintheME) and Aaron Zelin (@azelin) for a while, and I can think of no better occasion (although, at the risk of appearing slightly self-interested, I must admit) then now that they have published my first guest post there on the African Union’s recent efforts to put together a comprehensive counterterrorism regional treaty and what it could mean for the international law of terrorism.

Regardless at the exercise of shameless self-promotion I just indulged in, I would like to say a few words about the blog al-Wasat, regardless of the fact that they have been crazy enough (I mean, kind enough) to publish one of my posts. al-Wasat, which means ‘The Center’ in Arabic, is a blog recently created by two friends and experts in the field of counterterrorism and North Africa (Andrew) and radical Islam (Aaron). They have managed to gather other experts (PhD students and others) to contribute to their blog which covers the news coming out of these regions of the world, offering pertinent and refreshing analysis of what happens there.

This kind of blog is interesting to follow, even for lawyers. We have to remind ourselves – well, I sometimes do anyway (French law students are the worse on that matter) – that we do not operate in a vacuum, and reading these blogs written by experts give us the material necessary to reflect on what we are trying to achieve and how to apply our knowledge to reality. Because, after all, that is what law is really about.

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Shedding Light on Tensions Between the African Union and the ICC

The current tensions between the African Union and the International Criminal Court are often the object of international criminal lawyers’ discussions, and are particularly seized upon by skeptics and critics of the Court. For the Court and its supporters however, it has also been the subject of much reflection and concern, and this up to the highest levels (see ICC President Song’s opening remarks at the ICC-NGO biannual meetings a few weeks ago). Tensions and frustrations are flaring, and there seems to be no end to the standoff between the UN Security Council and the ICC on one side, and the African Union and Sudan on the other.

In the midst of these frictions that clearly threaten the ICC’s credibility in Africa, the Institute for Security Studies published last week an excellent Position Paper titled “An African expert study on the African Union concerns about article 16 of the Rome Statute of the ICC”, written by three African international law experts, namely Dapo Akande, Max du Plessis and Charles Chernor Jalloh.

As the title very clearly suggests, the authors give a very detailed analysis of the African Union’s position towards article 16 of the Rome Statute, in particular as it relates to the current tensions arising from the ICC’s involvement in Darfur.

Before giving some of my personal thoughts on the study’s findings, I first have to say that this report is brilliant and enlightening. It takes a very clear and rigorous approach to the raised questions on the role article 16 has to play, and makes the case for the African Union’s position without falling into the usual anti-West postcolonial political rhetoric that I find too often pollutes the debate and makes the real legal case inaudible. Although some would say there’s nothing new in the study for anyone who has followed AU-ICC relations closely, I still find that it puts a fresh perspective and offers a coherent analysis that puts the difference pieces of the puzzle in order.

I would recommend the reading of this report to anyone interested in understanding the state of ICC-AU relations, and more specifically, the legal aspects of the AU’s position towards the ICC.

I won’t summarize and go over the entire report, but briefly mention three main ideas that I think structure the paper and that particularly shed light on the ongoing conflict: Read the rest of this entry »

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