A Bigger Transitional Justice Role Recommended for the AU

A Bigger Transitional Justice Role Recommended for the AU

The International Peace Institute (where, in full disclosure, I am spending part of my sabbatical as a Senior Visiting Advisor) has just released a new report entitled Peace, Justice and Reconciliation in Africa.  The report, which will be of interest to those who follow the ICC and transitional justice issues, is available here

The report makes two recommendations:

1)      The African Union’s Panel of the Wise (a five member consultative body of the AU) should adopt an advocacy role to promote and reinforce guiding principles.  Specifically, the Panel is urged to place transitional justice issues at the center of a new continental legal architecture, which would include promoting ratification of existing legal instruments such as the African Charter on Human and People’s rights and the new African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

2)      The AU should develop a Transitional Justice Policy Framework and strengthen instruments for justice and reconciliation on the continent.  The text provides general background on the ICC’s role in Africa, but of particular note are the recommendations in the Annex that, if implemented, would alter the landscape of international criminal law in Africa.  For example, the Annex suggests the creation of an AU – ICC liason office and AU hybrid courts with jurisdiction over crimes within the Rome Statue and Geneva Conventions. 

If implemented these recommendations would be a significant step towards a stronger AU.  I’ve blogged here about the AU’s increasing use of sanctions, and have watched with interest the growing (but not always harmonious) relationship between the AU’s Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council, as illustrated by differences of opinion on how to respond to the crises in Libya and Côte d’Ivoire and over the financing of the AU Mission in Somalia in 2011.  On the international criminal justice front, a low water mark was the AU’s decision to oppose the ICC’s indictment of Bashir.  Better coordination between the AU and other institutions like the Security Council and the ICC would change the landscape considerably.  The International Peace Institute’s report is worth a read.

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