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The International Criminal Court (ICC) is a permanent international institution that was created by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in July of 1998. The ICC investigates genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression in its 122 member states.

The ICC also has jurisdiction to investigate crimes that occur within non-member states if a national of a state party commits the crime or the United Nations Security Council authorizes the investigation. To date, there have only been eight investigations, all of which occurred in Africa. Of these inquiries, four crimes were referred by the states themselves and two were presented by the UN Security Council.

The lack of geographical diversity in the ICC’s investigations has upset African political leaders. This group of leaders, represented by President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, have accused the International Criminal Court of selective enforcement, discrimination against Africans and Western imperialism. The International Criminal Court has denied all of the allegations.

President Kenyatta, who was charged by the ICC prior to his election, led Kenya’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute of the ICC, and is encouraging 34 other African states to renounce their membership as well. Ethiopian Prime Minister and African Union Chairman, Hailemariam Desalegn, stated at the UN General Assembly “the manner in which the ICC has been operating has left a very bad impression in Africa. It is totally unacceptable.”

This issue is to be discussed on October 13, 2013 at an African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. If all 54 states decide to withdraw from the ICC, the Rome Statute will not have any power within Africa and international criminal laws will not be enforced.

– Lienna Feleke-Eshete

Sources: ICC, BBC
Photo: Human Rights Watch