Fatou Bensouda, The Next Prosecutor of the ICC

by Kevin Jon Heller

It’s official — or almost is, to be completely accurate.  Mark Kersten first reported the news at Justice in Conflict, and a Reuters story has now confirmed it.  On December 12, Fatou Bensouda will become the next ICC Prosecutor:

An informal meeting of ICC members will be held in New York on Thursday to discuss the appointment, said Liechtenstein’s U.N. Ambassador Christian Wenaweser, president of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Rome Statute that set up the court.

“I will recommend to the meeting that, based on my consultations, we go forward with a single candidate, Fatou Bensouda,” Wenaweser told Reuters by telephone.

The appointment will be made at a formal session of the 118-nation ASP in New York on December 12, Wenaweser said.

Readers already know that I think Bensouda will make a superb Prosecutor.  I do want to take (mild) issue with Mark’s claim that “[h]er selection would thus appear to confirm the desire among states parties to select someone who will be more of a ‘secretary’ than a ‘general’ – a prosecutor who won’t ruffle as many feathers.”  I think it’s true that Bensouda will not make headlines for all the wrong reasons and will avoid needlessly alienating governments and NGOs (and everyone else).  But I think it’s wrong to suggest (and Mark will no doubt correct me if I’m reading him wrong) that Bensouda will avoid taking on powerful interests to avoid controversy; from what I know about her, she’ll do what she believes is right no matter how many feathers get ruffled. So if states think they are getting a shrinking violet, they’re bound for serious disappointment.

Congratulations to Fatou Bensouda.  And more importantly, congratulations to the ICC.

http://opiniojuris.org/2011/12/01/fatou-bensouda-the-next-prosecutor-of-the-icc/

3 Responses

  1. Mark Kersten’s article of 23rd May 2011 was amazingly good and nuanced, which one would not infer from your brief rendering or referencing. You did not do it justice. May I suggest that everybody interested in the topic follow the third link, and actually read it?

  2. Thanks Kevin, but I can’t take the credit for first reporting it. I believe Colum Lynch was the first to break the story.

    As for the commentary on whether Bensouda will be a “secretary or general”, the phrase (developed to describe and distinguish UN Secretary Generals) is intended to capture style rather than substance, something the latest post perhaps didn’t catch adequately. I have no doubt that Bensouda will tackle the most difficult issues, even if it does stir controversy. In a more recent post, after the AU had endorsed her candidacy, I tried to make this clear: “we shouldn’t be fooled by Bensouda. Just because she appears much more reserved and is much less infatuated with the media than Moreno-Ocampo, doesn’t mean she won’t stir the pot.” I agree with the widespread sentiment that the ICC got the best Prosecutor it could have.

  3. Also, @Alexander – thank you very much for your kind words – it’s greatly appreciated.

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