This article is cross-posted from the National Post. A “preliminary investigation” by the ICC Prosecutor into possible crimes against humanity and war crimes in Nigeria has been ongoing since 2010. The investigation is currently in the Phase III “Admissibility” stage, where the prosecutor is determining whether the Nigerian government’s proceedings “are substantially the same as those that would likely arise from an investigation” by her office and whether “those most responsible for the most serious crimes are being brought to justice.”
Boko Haram’s pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State on March 7 did not initially result in noticeable changes on the ground. Boko Haram’s recent targeting of moderate Muslim clerics, evangelical churches and perceived “non-believers” during Islam’s holy month of Ramadan, however, has made that pledge a reality.
Abubakr Shekau, leader of Boko Haram (photo: AFP)
Since the May 29 inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler who hails from Nigeria’s Muslim north, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon have witnessed a significant resurgence of Boko Haram attacks. This comes after a series of territorial defeats in which Nigerian and Chadian-led regional counterinsurgency forces recaptured large swaths of territory in northeastern Nigeria from Boko Haram control.
Many of the attacks in recent weeks have been classic Boko Haram, marking a return to its militant roots with suicide bombings in urban markets and government buildings, as well as raids on villages across northeastern Nigeria. However, there have been two notable new developments that warrant special attention.
This article is cross-posted from the International Peace Institute’s Global Observatory, with thanks to Jill Stoddard and James Bowen.
South Sudan last week had the unenviable distinction of being ranked the world’s most fragile state for the second year running. With the country’s politically and ethnically driven conflict degenerating into civil war since December 2013, mediation efforts by the eight-country East African Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and pressure by the United States, United Kingdom, and Norwegian “troika” have continually failed to achieve a lasting ceasefire.
As well as inflicting terrible tragedies on the people of South Sudan, with over 50,000 killed, 1.4 million displaced and 40% of the population facing acute hunger, the continuing instability is posing significant challenges for international actors. Most recently, the scale of the crisis has drawn China, as a rising regional power, but otherwise reluctant intervenor in other states’ internal affairs, firmly into play.
China’s former President Hu Jintao with South Sudan President Salva Kiir, photo credit: Washington Post
China’s recent rise in Africa relative to the West has generated much attention. It has become the continent’s largest trading partner by far, with over 160 billion USD in trade in 2013 alone and more than a million Chinese nationals moving to Africa in the last decade.
With its extensive oil and infrastructure investments in South Sudan and similar economic leverage on nearby Sudan, Uganda, and other regional actors, China has engaged in a form of business-driven diplomacy that the US and its allies will struggle to match. South Sudan accounts for 5% of China’s crude oil imports and the state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation holds a 40% stake in three of the country’s largest oil fields. China has also been quietly ramping up its African humanitarian aid, pledging emergency relief worth at least 21 million USD to South Sudan as of October 2014.
We’re happy to cross-post this article from Robert Cryer on football and international justice (two subjects close to my heart!), originally posted on the Oxford University Press blog. Robert is professor of International and Criminal Law at the University of Birmingham. He is author of, amongst other things, The Tokyo International Military Tribunal: A Reappraisal (with Neil Boister). He was a co-editor of The Oxford Companion to International Criminal Justice (Lead editor Antonio Cassese). He is also co-editor of the Journal of Conflict and Security Law, and sits on the editorial board of the Journal of International Criminal Justice.
The factual backdrop to this affair is well-known. FIFA, world football’s governing body has, for a number of years, been the subject of allegations of corruption. Then, after a series of dawn raids on 27 May 2015, seven FIFA officials, of various nationalities, the most famous being Jack Warner, the Trinidadian former vice president of FIFA, were arrested in a luxury hotel in Zurich where they were staying prior to the FIFA Congress. This was pursuant to an indictment that accused them, alongside five corporate officials, of using their positions within FIFA to engage in schemes involving the solicitation, offer, acceptance, payment, and receipt of undisclosed and illegal payments, bribes, and kickbacks. The defendants and their co-conspirators were also accused of corrupting the enterprise by engaging in various criminal activities, including fraud, bribery, and money laundering, in pursuit of personal and commercial gain.
The allegations relate in particular to the bidding process for the right to hold the World Cup. To the surprise of some, FIFA’s president, Sepp Blatter, was not included in the indictment, although further investigations, both in the United States and Switzerland, are ongoing, and calls for him to step down have been made, including by the British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Corruption, and its fellow traveller money laundering, tends to cross borders, and with an entity such as FIFA and an event such as the World Cup, it would be difficult to imagine that there could not be an international element to the case. But the indictment in one country of nationals of various countries, and arrests in another pursuant to an extradition request, have given rise to different conceptions of criminal justice: one internationalist, the other nationalist.
The former can be seen on the part of US officials, who, when announcing the arrests and indictments, thanked the government of Switzerland and other unnamed States for their ‘outstanding assistance’ in the investigation. Given that the conduct related in large part to money laundering into and out of the United States and to bribes that went through US banks and deposited abroad, it is no surprise that the cooperation of other States was required. What might be surprising though is that mutual legal assistance, at best a sclerotic system, seems to have worked in this case, although it was helped by guilty pleas by four FIFA officials including the ex-US member of the FIFA executive committee. It is notable that the rhetoric of the United States was very much of the internationalisation of the crimes and the effect they had in developing countries. As IRS Chief of Investigation, Richard Weber (clearly no stranger to a bon mot) described the charges, they relate to a ‘World Cup of corruption’.
Below is the information for a great one week mock trial program slated for July 6-11, 2015 organized by the Association of Defence Counsel Practicing before the ICTY (ADC-ICTY) and International Criminal Law Bureau. Application deadline is May 15, 2015.
The ADC-ICTY is organising another Mock Trial this year with the support of the International Criminal Law Bureau. The Mock Trial is a one week event hosted by the ADC-ICTY in The Hague. The week includes hands-on evening sessions for young professionals in the field of international criminal law and a one day Mock Trial exercise in the ICTY courtroom in front of ICTY Judges and Counsel.
The evening sessions focus on practical skills and expertise and are given by experienced Defence Counsel to prepare participants for a career in international criminal law. Topics include “legal drafting”, “oral trial advocacy”, “opening and closing statements” and “ethics in international criminal law”. Participants will be requested to make written filings in teams as well as perform in the courtroom on the day of the Mock Trial.
Participants will be allocated to one Prosecution team and three Defence teams, or play one of the two witnesses or one of the three accused. Applicants shall inform the ADC-ICTY of their preferred role when submitting an application.
Dates: 6 July – 11 July 2015
Evening sessions between 16:00 and 20:00 on 6-10 July and an all-day in-court exercise on 11 July 2015. Please note that the Mock Trial is a work-intensive week which will require participants to work in teams and simulate a real case. Work in the afternoons and evenings may be required. Please consult the Mock Trial Flyer and Programme 2015 for a tentative programme.
The deadline for applications is 15 May 2015. Please send your CV and a short motivational statement to firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis and candidates are chosen on the basis of their background knowledge and experience to allow for a competitive group of participants.
Yesterday, the Ugandan Supreme Court ruled that Thomas Kowyelo’s trial should continue in the International Crimes Division (ICD) of the High Court. There is, at present, no full judgement available, so the court’s reasoning cannot be thoroughly digested at this stage. However, by allowing his trial to continue, the Supreme Court has effectively denied amnesty to Thomas Kwoyelo.
Thomas Kwoyelo awaits judgement in the Ugandan Supreme Court on 8 April 2015. (Photo: New Vision)
As noted previously on this blog, a ruling to this effect could have the potential to undermine or even invalidate thousands of amnesty certificates that have been issued by the Amnesty Commission since its creation under the Amnesty Act in the year 2000. Until the Supreme Court’s reasoning on the amnesty issue can be fully assessed, it is unclear how the court came to its decision. But, having been eligible for amnesty under the letter of the 2000 law, if Kwoyelo can now be prosecuted, what does that mean for every holder of an amnesty certificate in Uganda?
I recently began a new job as an intelligence analyst specializing in African affairs with Max Security Solutions, a geopolitical risk consulting firm based in the Middle East. While the focus is more political than legal, I hope to publish some of this analysis here on Beyond The Hague, starting with this op-ed that was recently published at the Africa Review. All views expressed are in a personal capacity and do not represent Max Security Solutions.
– Alex (@alexpfielding on twitter)
While Boko Haram attacks in northern Nigeria have been dominating African headlines since the Islamist militants kidnapped over 200 girls in Chibok in April 2014, there is a lesser known group of rebels known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) who have been intimidating the local population, albeit on a different scale, in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for over 20 years.
FDLR combatants in the DRC, photo: RFI
The international community has long sought to demobilize the FDLR, a Hutu group led by former “genocidaires” who fled to the DRC following the Rwandan genocide of around 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994. The FDLR has few friends, but the dense forests of North and South Kivu provinces in the eastern DRC provided the perfect cover for it and other rebel groups to maintain territorial control over lucrative mining operations in coltan, gold and other minerals. The eastern DRC has a long, complex and tragic history of foreign meddling by Rwanda, Uganda and others, as proxy wars were fought by externally backed rebel groups over land, political power and mineral wealth.
Yesterday the Appeals Chamber (AC) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) delivered its judgment on the appeals against the Trial Chamber (TC)’s Decision Establishing the Principles and Procedures to be applied to Reparations (decision on reparations) in the case against Thomas Lubanga. This landmark ruling, together with the recent judgments in the Lubanga and Ngudjolo cases and the decision not to appeal the trial judgment in Katanga, are clear signs that the ICC is getting ready to deliver its first ever reparations. The unfolding of this reparative process in the Ituri district of the DRC highlights the challenges the ICC faces in trying to reconcile the notion of individual criminal responsibility with the mass scale of the crimes over which it holds jurisdiction. It further provides an acute illustration of the key tensions stemming from the fact that the ICC judicial process aims to be not merely punitive but also reparative.
Ituri District: Where forthcoming reparations will now seek to repair the harm from a war that happened over ten years ago
(For background on the Ituri war and trials, we’ve written extensively about the region, all of which you can find here.)
In its decision on reparations, the TC underlined the importance of reparations, both as a “well-established and basic human right” and as a reflection of the “need to go beyond the notion of punitive justice.” While noting that reparations oblige the convicted person to repair the harm he or she caused, the TC found that they could contribute more broadly to the communities that were affected and assist in promoting reconciliation. In yesterday’s judgment, the AC seems to have adopted the same approach.