Africa's Ongoing Fight With The International Criminal Court

The International Criminal Court's move to arrest Sudan's president in South Africa has highlighted tensions between the court and the African Union.
Posted at 12:02 PM, Jun 14, 2015

Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir's decision to attend an African Union summit in South Africa has exposed a complicated web of international politics.  

His arrival in South Africa, which is a member of the International Criminal Court, led the ICC to petition for his arrest on charges of genocide and war crimes. A South African court responded, issuing an order barring him from leaving the country. (Video via BBC)

Those charges stem primarily from government actions in Darfur, where Sudan's military forces are alleged to have carried out ethnic cleansing, costing as many as 300,000 lives by some estimates. (Video via Amnesty International)

Because the International Criminal Court — based in The Hague — lacks a police force, it relies on its member states to carry out arrests. But South Africa is also a member of the African Union and has commitments to that body as well. (Video via International Criminal Court)

The AU has repeatedly opposed the ICC in the past because it says the court has disproportionately prosecuted Africans. In fact, every individual indicted by the ICC since its inception in 2002 has been African. (Video via SABC News)

That's led many in Africa to view the ICC as a tool for colonialism, with some even calling it the International Colonial Court, according to Brookings.

The AU is solidly in that camp, having called for African countries to stand together against the ICC and ruling that its members have no obligation to arrest Bashir. (Video via Bloomberg TV Africa)

Supporters of the ICC have argued a large number of people the court indicts are referred to the court by their respective countries, and its jurisdiction is limited. (Video via PBS)

To be fair, the ICC has faced criticism outside Africa as well for being ineffective. In 13 years of operation, it's only managed two convictions

In that context, even though there's speculation Bashir will still be able to make it out of South Africa, the fact an order was even issued is something.

This video includes an image from Getty Images.