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.