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The International Criminal Court as a 'Transitional Justice' Mechanism in Africa: Some Critical Reflections

journal contribution
posted on 2023-03-14, 13:18 authored by Obiora C. Okafor, Uchechukwu NgwabaUchechukwu Ngwaba

Much scholarly writing on the International Criminal Court (ICC) gives the impression that the Court can function effectively as a primary transitional justice mechanism in Africa, and that it should, indeed, be deployed more or less frequently, liberally and robustly as such. But to what extent can this manner and degree of utilization of the ICC advance the cause of transitional justice on the continent? What, in any case, does transitional justice mean when situated within the broad African context? The article argues that transitional justice orthodoxy in Africa, more so than elsewhere, tends to present itself as significantly more monolithic, stable and settled than it actually is. In addition, it argues that while the ICC’s increasingly central role in transitional justice can lead to some positive consequences, it can also lead to a number of negative effects. The article thus urges a deliberate and systematic attempt to reconceptualize and recalibrate the ICC’s role as a transitional justice agent on the African continent.