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Article

Africa and the International Criminal Court  

Westen K. Shilaho

A diplomatic row between Africa, specifically the African Union (AU), and the International Criminal Court (ICC), regarding accountability for mass atrocities exists. Critics accuse the ICC of bias on account of its African caseload, while the ICC counters that it has a mandate to afford justice to victims of heinous crimes—war crimes, crimes against humanity, war of aggression, and genocide—whenever domestic courts cannot do so. This article problematizes the relationship between the AU and the ICC, which was initially cordial until the indictment of former Sudanese autocrat, Omar Al-Bashir. The indictment of six Kenyan suspects, the “Ocampo Six,” among them, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, who subsequently ascended to power, worsened the Africa–ICC relationship. The article contends that, although flawed, the ICC is significant in addressing impunity. However, the ICC stands accused of favoritism, imperialism, erosion of the sovereignty of already weak African states, and escalation of conflicts. Historically, international criminal justice is steeped in controversy. Africa has suffered humiliation by the West, which evokes suspicion toward the ICC, perceived to be a stooge of Western powers. The ICC as a court of last resort, ought to afford justice to victims of mass atrocities whenever national judiciaries fail them. Crucially, however, domestic courts in Africa need capacity and political will to hold to account masterminds and perpetrators of mass atrocities. Thus, the choice between justice and peace or retributive and restorative justice preponderant among ICC critics in Africa is false. There cannot be peace and reconciliation in Africa without justice. Truth telling and retribution are complementary processes in combating impunity and realizing justice, stability, and prosperity.

Article

Civil Wars and Displacement  

Ayşe Betül Çelik

The growing number of civil wars in the post-Cold War era has been accompanied by a rising number of forcibly displaced people, who either stay within the borders of their own countries, becoming internally displaced persons (IDPs), or cross borders to become refugees. Although many studies have been conducted on the reasons of conflict-induced displacement, various questions remain of interest for the scholars of international relations, especially questions pertaining but not limited to the (a) gendered aspects of conflict, displacement, and peace processes, (b) predicting possible future displacement zones, and (c) best political and social designs for returnee communities in post-civil war contexts. Most studies still focus on the negative consequences of forced migration, undermining how refugees and IDPs can also contribute to the cultural and political environment of the receiving societies. Considering that there is a huge variation in types of conflict, motivations for violence, and the resulting patterns of displacement within the category of civil war, more research on the actors forcing displacement, their intentions, and subsequent effects on return dynamics can benefit research in this field. Similarly, research on return and reconciliation needs to treat displacement and return as a continuum. Paying attention to conflict parties in civil war bears the potential for new areas of exploration whose outcomes can also shed light on policies for post-civil war construction and intergroup reconciliation.

Article

Cultural Genocide in Law and Politics  

Alana Tiemessen

The violent and nonviolent repression of cultural groups, or using cultural means to destroy a group, is often identified as “cultural genocide.” The concept’s association with genocide, the “crime of crimes,” suggests it is of serious international concern. Yet contestation over its meaning and application has rendered cultural genocide more of a rhetorical tool than a crime that can be prevented or punished. The scholarly literature on this subject demonstrates that academics and policymakers have been hampered by legal debates and states’ political interests, from Lemkin’s original conception of genocide and the UN Genocide Convention negotiations to the ad hoc responses to “real world” cultural genocide cases. The legal debates have centered around whether cultural genocide can fit within the limits of the Convention’s definition of genocide, that is, the specific intent to destroy, specific protected groups as victims, and so on, and the assumption that genocide is primarily the physical destruction of a group by violent means. Interdisciplinary perspectives on cultural genocide, particularly from anthropology, have shown that cultural genocide is diverse in practice; while not always physically violent in its means or ends, it is closely associated with historical and modern cases of settler colonialism. The politics of cultural genocide has historically been manifested in the politicized negotiations of the Genocide Convention and UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, in which the self-interests of many states precluded any specific mention of cultural means of genocide. In the early 21st century, debates about who should be considered a cultural group and the utility of identifying cultural genocide without its criminalization have resulted in a lack of recognition and response to group destruction.

Article

Postconflict Reparations  

Peter J. Dixon, Luke Moffett, and Adriana Rudling

The devastation brought by war leaves behind irreparable loss and destruction. Yet over the past 100 years there has been a concerted effort by states, both within their territory and following conflicts with other states, to resolve the past through reparations. As a legal and political tool, reparations can affirm values in a postconflict society through recognising suffering and responsibility, as well as helping those most affected by the conflict to cope with their loss. However, the scale of harm and damage of war may devastate a state’s capacity to redress all victims, and states may have more pressing priorities to reconstruct and encourage development. While the guns have been silenced, the motivations and ideologies that fueled and justified violence may continue, politicising debates over which victims are deserving of reparation or absolving the responsibility of certain actors, causing reparations to be delayed or dropped. Where reparations are made, furthermore, assessments of their effectiveness in meeting their goals are both challenging and necessary. This article addresses these issues, providing a snapshot of the key debates in the area, the continuing gaps, and the need for further research.

Article

State Terrorism  

Joseph M. Brown

State terrorism is a contentious topic in the field of terrorism studies. Some scholars argue that the concept of terrorism should only be applied to the behavior of nonstate actors. Others argue that certain government behaviors may be understood as terrorism if the intent of state violence and threats is to stoke fear and influence the behavior of a wider audience. Three possible conceptualizations of state terrorism are worth exploring: government sponsorship of nonstate actors’ terrorism, terrorism perpetrated by government agents outside a legal framework, and “inherent” state terrorism—acts perpetrated by the state in the everyday enforcement of law and order that, if perpetrated by nonstate actors, would clearly qualify as terrorism. Each of these conceptualizations yields insight about state behavior, highlighting particular uses of violence and threats as instruments of state policy. Depending on one’s conceptualization of state terrorism, common policies and functions of government possess an underlying terroristic logic. Analytical tools developed in the field of terrorism studies may be useful in helping us understand state behavior, when violence and threats appear to have a broader communicative function in influencing an audience beyond the immediate target.