Monday, April 26, 2010

Charles Chernor Jalloh on the International Criminal Court, Darfur and the African Union

On April 5, 2010, the Penn State Law School's Human Rights Law Society and its Alternative Dispute Resolution Society sponsored a seminar  Symposium - "Retribution, Reconciliation, Reparation: Perspectives on Justice for Darfur."  

I provided  a contextual introduction to the issues raised by an international criminal court system in general and its application to the Sudanese situation in particular.  My focus was on issues of complementarity--the use of the ICC as a supplemental judicial device--and the difficulties of conforming thast notion with the ICC's implementation.  I also suggested the difficulties of legitimating the ICC within a framework grounded in prosecutorial discretion.  My remarks reflected earlier work.  See Larry Catá Backer, Ruminations XI: The Criminalizaton of Politics and the Judicial forms of Warfare, Law at the End of the Day, February 11, 2009,  and Larry Catá Backer, On the Conviction of Sadam Hussein, Law at the End of the Day, Nov. 6, 2006.

The seminar featured Charles Chernor Jalloh, Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law who also served for a time as the Legal Advisor to the Office of the Principal Defender (OPD) in the Special Court for Sierra Leone.  Professor Jalloh has thoughtfully suggested a basis for skepticism about the International Criminal Court system among African states.  Charles C., Jalloh, Regionalizing International Criminal Law? (July 1, 2009). International Criminal Law Review, Vol. 9, p. 445, 2009 (suggesting that Africa’s sensitive historical experience with foreign interventions, including the slave trade and colonialism, the international criminal justice regime anchored on the ICC may be undermined, or perhaps even falter, if it is perceived as having a biased, politicized or insensitive application to a single region of the world).   Professor Jalloh suggested that the African Union High Level Panel Report on Darfur, chaired by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, could provide a useful “multi-layered” framework for the prosecution of international crimes committed in Darfur. Under this framework, legitimated national courts might prosecute  low level perpetrators of atrocities, and African Union-United Nations hybrid court could try the “middle management.”  The International Criminal Court's activities should be reserved only for pursuing the political and military leaders bearing greatest responsibility.

Professor Jalloh's remarks and my introduction are available on video and may be accessed here: 

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