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The International Criminal Court (ICC) has generated considerable controversy since it came into force in 2002, principally because of its overriding focus on African conflict situations and suspects. This has led to accusations that the ICC is a neocolonial meddler in African affairs, wielding undue and unaccountable influence over the domestic political arena. Drawing on the author’s field research in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo since 2006 this article contends that the neocolonialism critique of the ICC exaggerates the power of the Court while underestimating the capacity of African states to use the ICC to their own ends. Delivering distanced justice from The Hague with limited expertise on African societies and spending scant time in the field, the ICC has failed to grapple sufficiently with complex political dynamics “on the ground.” Combined with the Court’s heavy reliance on state cooperation, these factors have enabled African governments to use the ICC to target their political and military enemies while protecting themselves from prosecution. This has also emboldened African states in continuing to commit atrocity crimes against civilians, especially during periods of mass conflict and fraught national elections. While claiming to hover above the political fray, the ICC has become heavily politicized and instrumentalized by African states, with lasting and damaging consequences for the practice of national politics across Africa. To avoid being willfully used by African governments, the ICC must bolster its political expertise and become politically savvier. Rather than claiming to be neutral while hovering above the domestic terrain, the ICC must embrace its inherently political nature and deliver justice in a way that improves rather than undermines the practice of national and community-level politics across Africa.

Article

Kurt Hübner and James Anderson

Historically, the land known as Canada during the 21st century was colonized by the Kingdoms of France and England and was also the site of an abortive and short-lived colonization attempt by Scandinavian settlers in the 10th and 11th centuries. The early French colony of New France boasted a population in the tens of thousands but was eventually annexed and colonized by the United Kingdom following the conclusion of the Seven Years’ War. As a result, the modern nation-states of the United Kingdom and France have the closest relationships with Canada, and it is through these conduits that much of the contemporary Canada–European Union (EU) relationship lies. Although Canada, being a colony of the United Kingdom, did not conduct its own diplomacy for the entirety of the 19th century and much of the 20th, it was able to establish informal ties through diplomatic attachés to British embassies and consular offices. Following the Statute of Westminster in 1931, Canada gained the ability to craft an independent foreign policy which it pursued wholeheartedly. After the Second World War, it joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alongside the United States, the United Kingdom, and numerous other European nations. Its formal relationship with the EU and its predecessors began in 1959, when it and the burgeoning European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) signed an agreement on the peaceful uses of atomic energy. Since then, its cooperation has gained breadth and depth, expanding to myriad other policy areas including agriculture, foreign policy and defense, security, and trade. There have been points of tension between the two partners in the past, most notably around issues with the Quebec independence movement, governance of the Arctic, and governance of international fisheries and the oceans. However, over time the EU has grown to become perhaps Canada’s second most important partner worldwide, after the United States. This has culminated in the signing of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA), which are major milestones and cement Canada and the EU’s mutually increasing importance to each other.