IPI HomeEventsPanel DiscussionsComplexities Abound in Kenya's Withdrawal From Rome Statute

 

print print  |  share share back back

Panel Discussions - Thursday, September 19, 2013

Complexities Abound in Kenya's Withdrawal From Rome Statute

The complexities surrounding Kenya’s recent proposal to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC)—a decision regretted by most representatives of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute—was the topic of a recent IPI policy forum on September 19th.

Ambassador Macharia Kamau of Kenya made an impassioned case for his country’s plan to withdraw from the ICC and described the events that led to that decision.

“The entire international justice system is in uncharted waters,” said the ambassador. “The Rome Statute did not envision a situation where a popularly elected president would be carted off to the ICC. It mainly deals with warlords and fallen leaders, disgraced individuals.”

In contrast, Ambassador Tiina Intelmann, President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute and a panelist in the discussion, said, “The Rome Statute does not envision impunity being an option at all.”

“The ICC is there to avoid impunity and thereby avoid crimes against humanity,” she said.

The trial against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto, which began on September 10, 2013, and the pending trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta scheduled for November of this year, are moving forward. Even if Kenya formally withdraws from the ICC, under the terms of the Rome Statute, it must continue to cooperate with the ICC for one more year, unless the leaders, who are charged with crimes against humanity for involvement in the December 2007 post-election violence, renounce all current and future dealings with the court.

“The African Union seems poised to support Kenya and potentially encourage the withdrawal of other African states from the ICC, which would have a very significant bearing not only of the ICC but of international law more broadly,” said Ambassador John Hirsch, Senior Adviser, International Peace Institute, who chaired the IPI event. Ambassador Hirsch told the audience that rejection of the Rome Statute by some or all African states, over and above whatever Kenya decides to do, could have a detrimental impact on international law, the fight against impunity, and the prevention of mass atrocities.

Thirty-four African countries have ratified the Rome Statute, with 17 of them being original signatories. Recent remarks by the African Union challenge the integrity of the ICC and infer that it may encourage other African states to withdraw from the ICC.

Ruti Teitel, a comparative law professor at New York Law School and also a panelist at the event, said, “International law is in a very delicate place right now with respect to the judgment of standing leaders.” However, “it would be a matter of regret if there was a politicization of the ICC on either side.”

During an IPI event on September 25th, Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki affirmed his country’s support of the ICC. "We need this International Criminal Court. We need it for the sake of Africa, and we have to stick with it."

Watch event:

The Global Observatory

Defying Spain, Catalans Vote for Independence, But What’s Next?
The unofficial Catalan referendum has raised several questions about Catalonia’s future and its relationship with Madrid.

Key Global Events to Watch in November
A list of key upcoming meetings and events with implications for global affairs.

2014 Top 10 Issues to Watch in Peace & Security: The Global Arena
A list of ten key issues to watch that are likely to impact international peace and security in 2014, compiled by IPI's Francesco Mancini.

The Global Observatory, produced by IPI, provides timely analysis on peace and security issues, interviews with leading policymakers, interactive maps, and more.

Recent Events

November 05, 2014
Top-Down Governance Hurts Women, Youth Participation
Governments in the Sahel and Maghreb are still using top-down approaches to governance that make it hard for women and youth to have a say in public life, even though their participation can help their governments’ struggle against instability and extremism.

November 03, 2014
Apakan on Ukraine: "To Be Present Is Important"
On November 3rd, IPI’s Vienna office hosted Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan, Chief Monitor of the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

November 03, 2014
Enhancing Women's Share in Peace and Security
“We did not want to make war safe for women; we wanted to end war for everyone,” Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury said, recalling the goal of a new resolution he introduced as president of the Security Council in the year 2000.

View More