Africa & the International Criminal Court: A new Era is Possible

Subsequent to my article on Africa and the ICC published on this blog, I was invited by H.E. Sidiki Kaba, Minister of Justice of Senegal and President of the Assembly of States parties to the International Criminal Court to resource a ministerial discussion  on the challenges and opportunities of the International Criminal Court going forward. Present at this meeting was also the ICC Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda as well as other officials of the court.

In my presentation at a session chaired by H.E. Cheik Sako, Minister of Justice of Guinea, I proposed to African Ministers of Justice ideas that would re-establish trust between Africa and the ICC in order to work together to address impunity and ensure justice for victims. I argued that grievances of the African Union against the ICC’s  “exclusive” targeting of Africa is understandable because crimes under ICC jurisdictions are also committed by none Africans, outside of Africa and the ICC does not seem to be in a hurry to investigate them. However, as long as African countries and the continent do not have a functioning mechanism to address international crimes, our continent and the ICC must find a way to work together, clear misunderstandings, communicate better and ensure justice and accountability for the victims who are mostly women and children.

A recent  national “peoples’ consultation” organized by the Government of Zambia on their membership to the ICC has overwhelmingly  revealed citizens support for the ICC (more than 90%). Today, the ICC has more African member states (34) than the African Court of Human and People’s Rights has (30).  So, the envisaged divorce between Africa and the ICC should not be an option, rather, we need to re-invent trust and a better way of working…

For more details on my proposals  you can download my presentation here: https://www.slideshare.net/…/africa-and-the-icc-a-new-era-i…

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You can also read my recent article on ICC and Africa here: https://assodesire.com/…/the-international-criminal-court-…/

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Outcomes of the African Union Summit – July 2017 (Unofficial Note)

This document is being updated as more information become available

Last update: 10 July 2017

Dear Friends;

The 29th ordinary Summit of the AU (July 2017) has just ended in Addis Ababa. The official decisions of the Summit are not expected to be publicly available before a couple of weeks but, based on meetings and discussions that I have had with several delegations around the Summit and after looking at some of the Summit documents, I would like to share the following unofficial note on the key outcomes of the Summit.

In the coming days I will share on this blog, some personal analysis on these outcomes.

AU pic

Highlights:

  • Important decisions on youth; theme of the year.
  • President Paul Kagame of Rwanda elected to lead the African Union in 2018.
  • 2018 budget of the AU adopted: $769, 381,894, slightly less than 2017 budget.
  • Concerned about the performance of ECOSOCC, the Summit ordered an in-depth study on its functioning since its creation
  • The Africa-EU Partnership is re-branded: Morocco entered a strong reservation
  • Election of two commissioners: HRST & Economic Affairs
  • Election of new members of the Panel of the Wise
  • The theme of 2018 confirmed as “Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation” and the dates and venues of both AU Summits in 2018 decided.
  • Important decisions and commitments on peace, security and humanitarian situation in Africa, and, on the “AU Roadmap for silencing the guns in Africa by 2020”
  • List of Heads of State and Government who lead on specific thematic within the AU

1/ Theme of the Year: “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth”

The Summit asked the Chairperson to mobilize international support for Africa’s efforts towards harnessing the demographic dividend by calling for a special session of the United Nations General Assembly and the creation of a global partnership on the demographic dividend.

2018-2027 period is declared “African Decade for Technical, Professional and Entrepreneurial Training and Youth Employment”.

The establishment of the African Youth Fund is endorsed. The Summit also authorized allocation to the African Youth Fund of an amount at least equal to 1% of the Programme Budget of the African Union Commission.

The Pan-African Youth Forum is institutionalized. The Leader of the theme of the year 2017, President Idriss Deby to follow-up on the conclusions of the Pan-African Youth Forum held in N’Djamena

The AU Commission to review the implementation of the AUC/AfDB/ILO/ECA Joint Initiative on Youth Employment to be in line with the AU Roadmap on the Demographic Dividend and incorporate the new AfDB Strategy on Youth Employment in Africa.

2/  Budget for 2018

Total budget: $769, 381,894 (including peace support operations $268,083,200)

  • Operating Budget US$458,763,038
  • Programs budget: $310,618,856

… to be financed as follows:

  • Member States contribution: $318,276,795
  • Partners contribution: $451,105,099

3/Africa -EU Partnership becomes “African Union (AU) – European Union (EU) Partnership: Morocco entered strong reservation.

The Executive Council approved the theme of the 5th AU – EU Summit (29-30 Nov. 2017) namely: “Investment in Youth for Accelerated Inclusive growth and sustainable development”. The Executive Council also decided that the nomenclature for the partnership with the European Union to be now: “African Union (AU) – European Union (EU) Partnership” instead of “Africa – EU partnership”. The Kingdom of Morocco entered a strong reservation on nomenclature: African Union (AU) – European Union(EU) Partnership.

Senior Officials and a Ministerial meeting to be held before the Summit. The PRC in close collaboration with the Commission to prepare and negotiate with the European side the outcome documents of the Summit.

The PRC was asked to convene a retreat to jointly conclude the elaboration of a Draft Declaration and other documents for the 2017 AU-EU Summit in cooperation with the AU Commission and the Africa Group in Brussels and submit to an Extraordinary Session of Council in August/September 2017 to consider the same documents and adopt the African Common Position.

Finally, the Council denounced the unjust unilateral sanctions against States and citizens of AU Member States.

4/ Peace, Security and Humanitarian Situation

Somalia: The Assembly expressed concern at the resurgence of piracy activities of the coast of Somalia and called on the AU and international partners to coordinate their support through the implementation mechanism of the Security Pact, as agreed at the London Conference, held on 11 May 2017, with a view to optimize the impact of joint efforts aimed at, in particular, supporting the Somali National Security Forces. The Assembly welcomed the establishment of the AU-Somalia Joint Task Force that should be the best channel to harmonize support by partners.

South Sudan: The Assembly expressed deep concern over the continued deterioration of the situation in South Sudan and called upon, South Sudanese parties to demonstrate leadership and to rise up to their responsibility towards ending the long suffering of their own people. The Assembly also welcomed the launching of the National Dialogue initiative by President Salva Kiir and urged the South Sudanese stakeholders to ensure its inclusivity independence and impartiality. The Assembly endorsed the decisions of the 31 IGAD Extraordinary Summit held on 12 June 2017, in particular the urgent convening of the High-Level Revitalization Forum of the Peace Agreement. Concerned by the humanitarian situation in South Sudan and urged the international community to provide the necessary assistance to the needy people in South Sudan and the neighboring countries. In this regard, the Assembly called on the Transitional Government of National Unity, SPLM-IO and all armed groups to strictly observe international humanitarian law with regard to humanitarian agencies and workers, with a view to create or facilitate access and delivery of the humanitarian assistance to the population in need.

Djibouti and Eritrea: The Chairperson of the Commission, with the necessary support of the two countries, to pursue his efforts towards normalization of relations and good neighborhood between Djibouti and Eritrea

Morocco & Western Sahara: The Assembly reaffirmed its determination to find a durable solution to the conflict in Western Sahara, and called on the two Member States, the Kingdom of Morocco and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, to engage in direct and serious talks and extend the necessary cooperation to the AU policy organs, the Commission and the AU High Representative for Western Sahara. The Assembly also welcomed the commitment of the UN Secretary-General to re-launch the negotiating process, with a new dynamic and a new spirit leading to the resumption of negotiations, in good faith and without preconditions, between the two parties with the aim of reaching a durable solution, which shall provide for the self-determination referendum of the people of Western Sahara in line with  the relevant UN resolutions and the AU/OAU decisions.

DRC: The Assembly appealed to all Congolese actors to work for the preservation of the still fragile  gains in the path of peace and stability in the DRC, in particular the effective and consensual implementation of the 31 December 2016 Agreement, with a view to organizing elections, in December 2017. In this regard, the Assembly welcomed the initiatives so far taken by the Chairperson of the Commission, including the dispatching, from 29 to 30 May, in Kinshasa, of a mission led by Commissioner for Peace and Security and comprising the representatives of the United Nations, the ICGLR, SADC, guarantor institutions of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Region, signed on 24 February 2013, in Addis Ababa. The also Assembly called for the urgent appointment of the Chairman and Members of the National Follow up Council of the Agreement (CNSA) in order to establish the calendar of elections.

Burundi: The Summit reaffirmed  its commitment to the peaceful resolution of the crisis in Burundi  through the rapid launching of an inclusive inter-Burundian dialogue, under the aegis of the East African Community (EAC), with the support of the AU, under the leadership of the EAC Mediator, President Museveni of Uganda and his Facilitator, former President Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania.  The Assembly called upon the Burundian authorities to take all the necessary steps to build the widest consensus possible on the ongoing process of revising the Constitution, with the participation of all stakeholders and on the basis of the Arusha Agreement  of 2000. In this regard, the Assembly also called for the rapid signing of the Memorandum of Understanding relating to the activities of the Human Rights Observers and the Military Experts of the AU;

CAR: The Assembly reaffirmed support to the African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation in CAR and called on all Central African stakeholders, the UN and other partners to support this process. The Assembly welcomed the signing in Rome, on 19 June 2017, under the facilitation of the Sant’Egidio community, of an agreement between armed groups, including a country wide ceasefire.  The Assembly URGES Member States and partners to pursue and increase their assistance to the CAR and to contribute to stabilization, post-conflict reconstruction and development efforts in the country.

Mali: The Assembly welcomed the timely initiative of the G5 Sahel, namely Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad, which led to the establishment of the G5 Sahel Joint Force. The Assembly further welcomed the adoption by the United Nations Security Council of resolution 2359 (2017) on the deployment of the G5 Joint Force expressed appreciation to the European Union (EU) for the financial support to the initiative of the G5 Sahel. The Assembly requested the Commission to organise as soon as possible, a meeting of the member countries of the Nouakchott Process to discuss their support for the G5 Sahel initiative, within the framework of the AU Strategy for the Sahel Region.

AU Road-map on Silencing the Guns by 2020

The Summit declared the month of September, of each year till 2020, as “Africa Amnesty Month” for the surrender and collection of illegally owned weapons/arms, in line with the African and international best practices. In this context, the Assembly Pronounced as follows:

  1. persons who surrender their illegally owned weapons/arms shall not be subjected to disclosure humiliation, arrest or prosecution;
  2. persons who fail to surrender their illegally owned weapons/arms beyond the Africa Amnesty month, shall automatically be considered to be in violation of national laws and the Amnesty and shall therefore be prosecuted according to the national laws of the Member States;
  3. all Member States, RECs/RMs as well as civil society organizations shall give wide publicity, through all media networks, to the Africa Amnesty Month within their territories and regions;
  4. Member States to adhere to and promote the Africa Amnesty Month, September each year, and mobilize their citizens to actively participate in the efforts to silence the guns.

The Summit appealed to all AU Member States and RECs/RMs to redouble efforts in further strengthening their governance institutions, as part of the continental mobilization to ensure strong response to illicit weapons, their proliferation and use in the continent, as well as to illicit financial flows, production of dangerous drugs, as well as trade in illicit goods and illegal exploitation of natural resources.

The Summit encouraged AU Member States to speed up signing and ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty adopted the UN General Assembly on 2 April 2013, which has the potential to play an important role in silencing the guns in Africa.

The Summit requested the Commission, as also requested by the PSC in its Press Statement [PSC/PR/BR.(CDXXX)] of its 430th meeting held on 24 April 2014, to submit and present to the PSC, the outcomes of the continent-wide mapping exercise which was launched in early 2017, with a view to generating concrete data on patterns and trends in illegal weapons and ammunition inflows and cross-border flows, diversion and circulation, as well as gaps in control measures in Member States, in order to strengthen AU remedial efforts.

The Summit Acknowledged that as part of the efforts to strengthen democratic institutions and practices throughout the continent, political will and commitment is a fundamental necessity for success in silencing the guns. In this regard, the Assembly urged Member States, for those that have not yet done so, to submit their state reports on their implementation of the provisions of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG).

The Summit also requested the AU Commission to convene a meeting of experts of AU Member States to review the OAU/AU treaty making process and make recommendations that will be submitted for consideration by the relevant AU policy organs in the course of 2017.

Panel of the Wise: The Summit decided to strengthen the preventive role of the Panel of the Wise by urging it to accelerate the establishment of national peace infrastructures, including by harnessing the efforts of national mechanisms. The summit also decided on the operationalization of “Pan African Network of Women Mediators“, as a subsidiary body of the Panel of the Wise.

Humanitarian Situation in Africa

The Executive Council expressed concern over the dire humanitarian situation of migrants in Mediterranean Sea trying to cross over to Europe and, welcomed the New York Declaration adopted at 71st UNGA and the commitment towards the adoption of a global compacts on refugees and on the safe and orderly migration, by 2018 as well as the comprehensive refugee response framework (CRRF) for large scale movements of refugees including tackling protracted situations.

Recognizing that 2019 will mark the 50th Anniversary of the 1969 OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Situations in Africa and the 10th anniversary of the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, the Executive Council called on the Union to declare 2019 as the Year of Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons in Africa : “towards durable solutions to forced displacement in Africa” and develop an implementation road map.

The Executive Council has also requested the following to the AU Commission:

  • In collaboration with the PRC Sub-Committee on Refugees, Returnees and IDPs and the Sub-Committee on the Special Emergency Fund to take all necessary measures to convene a Donors Pledging Conference, which should include the private sector.
  • In collaboration with the PRC to engage in further reflections on the situation of refugees to develop practical modalities to assist refugees in Africa;

 Work in close collaboration with relevant international partners to address migration flows of Africans through the Mediterranean Sea and other channels

5/ Institutional Reform: The Summit took note of President Kagame’s Progress Report and reiterated that the implementation process will consider proposals and suggestions made by Member States

6/ Full Integration of NEPAD into the African Union Commission: The NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee (HSGOC) is dissolved. AUC in consultation with the NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency (NPCA), to take all necessary measures for the full integration of the NEPAD into the Commission and to report to 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly in January 2018.

7/ ECOSOCC

The Executive Council expressed concerns about the performance of ECOSOCC as an advisory role to the Union and requested the AUC in collaboration with ECOSOCC and Member States to implement the previous Executive Council Decisions EX.CL/Dec.833(XVII) on the establishment of a dedicated secretarial within CIDO and EX.CL/Dec.849(XXV) which calls for an in-depth study regarding the functioning of ECOSOCC since its inception to provide appropriate recommendations on modalities to revamp the operations of the organ, in line with the current reforms of the AU that would support the principle of Africa ownership

AU Commission to work out all legal, structural and financial implications affecting the relocation of ECOSOCC to Lusaka, Zambia and submit to the PRC for supplementary budget consideration

8/ Child Rights

The Executive Council adopted the theme for the Day of the African Child 2017: “Leave No Child Behind for Africa’s Development” and requested Member States to commemorate the Day of the African Child

9/ New Commissioners elected:

  1. Human Resources, Science and Technology: ANYANG AGBOR Sarah MBI Enow Sarah (Cameroon)
  2. Economic Affairs: HARISON Victor (Madagascar)

10/ New members of the Panel of the Wise

Eastern Africa: Dr. Speciosa Wandira Kazibwe, from Uganda (re-appointed)

Northern Africa: Mr. Amr Moussa, from Egypt

Western Africa:, Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, from Liberia

Central Africa: Mrs. Catherine Samba-Panza, from the Central African Republic

Southern Africa region, Mr. Hifikepunye Pohamba, from Namibia

Outgoing members of the Panel of the Wise shall become members of the Group of Friends of the Panel.

11/ January 2018 Summit and theme of the year: The 30th AU Summit will be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, under the theme “Winning The Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation” as follow: PRC: 22 – 23 January 2018; Executive Council: 25 – 26 January 2018; Assembly: 28 – 29 January 2018.

July 2018 Summit: The 31st AU Summit will be held  in Mauritania as follow:  PRC : 25 – 26 June 2018; Executive Council: 28 – 29 June 201; Assembly: 1 – 2 July 2018.

12/ Which President Leads on what ?

(i) H.E. Mr. Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo: Leader and Chairperson of the High-Level Committee on Libya;

(ii) H.E. Mr. Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South African: Leader on African Union-United Nations Cooperation;

(iii) H.E. Mr. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda: Leader on the Continent’s Political Integration;

(iv) H.E. Mr. Edgar Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia: Leader on Combating Early Marriage of Young Girls;

(v) H.E. Mr. Mahamadou Issoufou, President of the Republic of Niger: Leader on Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA)

(vi) H.E. Mr. Idriss Deby Itno, President of the Republic of Chad, Leader: of the Theme of the Year 2017;

(vii) H.E. Mr. Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Leader on the Implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme: (CAADP);

(viii) H.E. Mr. Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé, President of the Togolese: Republic, Leader on Maritime Security, Safety and Development in Africa;

(ix) H.E. Mr. Abdelaziz Bouteflika: President of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, Leader on the Thorny Issue of Combating Terrorism and Violent Extremism in Africa;

 (x) His Majesty Mohamed VI, King of Morocco, Leader on the Migration Issue;

(xi) H.E. Mr. Alassane Dramane Ouattara, President of the Republic of  Côte d’Ivoire, Leader on the Follow-Up of the Implementation of African Union Agenda 2063;

(xii) H.E. Mr. Nana Akufo Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana: Leader on Gender and Development Issues in Africa;

 xiii) H.E. Mr. Ernest Bai Koroma, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Leader and Chairperson of the Committee of Ten (C10) on the United Nations Security Council Reform;

(xiv) H.E. Mr. Paul Kagamé, President of the Republic of Rwanda, Leader  on the Institutional Reform of the African Union;

 (xv) H.E. Mr. Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of the Gabonese Republic and Chairperson of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC);

13/ Hissen Habre Case

The Executive Council requested the Commission to submit the Statutes of the Trust Fund for victims of Hissène Habré crimes to the Specialized Technical Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs for Consideration and to present it to the Thirtieth Ordinary Session of the Assembly for adoption through the Executive Council January/February 2018;

The Council also authorized the Commission to take necessary consultations with the Government of the Republic of Chad on the establishment of the Secretariat of the Trust Fund, bearing in mind that, the Decision of the African Extraordinary Chambers, the Senegalese Courts will have jurisdiction over all matters arising from the implementation of the African Extraordinary Chambers’ decision.

The Council invited Members States, partners and any other governmental or non-governmental organisation to provide a voluntary contribute to the Trust Fund and fully support the African Union Commission, to ensure the prompt and effective reparation of the victims as per the Decision of the African Extraordinary Appeal Chambers.

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The International Criminal Court or the African Union: Who can Ensure Justice for African Victims?

La version en Français ici

I spent several years of my professional career working on human rights and justice first as the Founder and Chairperson of Juris-Club, then as Commissioner at the National Commission of Human Rights following my election by the Parliament of Togo, then as Outreach Liaison for Africa at the Global Coalition for the International Criminal Court in New York among others … The conflict between the African Union and the ICC therefore interests me in several respects but especially as African and a human rights lawyer; therefore I would like to share here some personal reflections on the different episodes of the serial “ICC versus the African Union”.

The International Criminal Court: The Basics

The creation of the International Criminal Court is an important step in mankind’s efforts to make our world more just. The court was established by an international law treaty “The Rome Treaty” adopted in 1998 and entered into force in 2002. The ICC covers only the most serious crimes, including genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression, and this, only when States are unable or unwilling to judge these crimes themselves. The Court may be seized by a State Party, the Prosecutor and the United Nations Security Council. The Statute of the Court applies equally to all, without any distinction based on official capacity. In particular, official capacity as a Head of State or Government, a member of a Government or parliament, an elected representative or a government official shall in no case exempt a person from criminal responsibility under the ICC Statute (…): Article 27.

The Place of Africa in the ICC

Africa is the geographical bloc the most represented in the ICC. 124 countries are currently Parties to the Statute of the International Criminal Court: Africa: 34, Asia and the Pacific: 19, Eastern Europe: 18, Latin America and the Caribbean: 28, Western Europe and others: 25. The judges of the Court are equally from all regions of the world. Out of the 18 judges of the court 4 are Africans: Kenya (vice-president), Nigeria, DRC, and Botswana. Moreover, the prosecutor of the Court is Gambian.

Is the ICC targeting Africa or African leaders only?

To date, the ICC has opened investigations in 9 countries, out of which 8 are in Africa: Uganda, DRC, Sudan, CAR, Kenya, Libya, Cote d’Ivoire and Mali. This clearly demonstrates that the ICC operates primarily in Africa and it is true that today Africa is not the only continent where crimes of the ICC jurisdiction are committed… But did you know how and why this concentration of the ICC on Africa happened?

First, it was Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni who the first referred the situation in the Northern Uganda to the ICC in January 2004 against his opponent Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army; a brutal armed group. Then it was the Government of DRC under President Joseph Kabila who referred the situation in the country to the ICC. This was followed by the Governments of Central Africa Republic (CAR) and Mali, who themselves referred the situation of their  countries to the ICC. In 2003, before even formally ratifying the ICC treaty, the government of Laurent Gbagbo had officially recognized the jurisdiction of the Court over its country, Cote d’Ivoire.

In short, the governments of 4 of the 8 African countries under investigation have themselves referred these cases to the ICC (Uganda, DRC, CAR, and Mali). The prosecutor of the ICC opened investigations on her own initiative in 2 countries with their full cooperation (Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire) and the UN Security Council had seized the court in two cases (Sudan and Libya).

It is therefore obvious from this observation that African leaders went to the ICC first (mostly against their opponents) and not the other way round  … but why? …Why are they against the ICC today?

Did African leaders understand the ICC differently?

In 2004, President Museveni seized the ICC against his opponent Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army … But during the investigations there were indications that Uganda’s National Army may have also committed crimes under the jurisdiction of the ICC, and therefore may be liable to be tried by the ICC with an eventual involvement of President Museveni himself…. ‘No way!!!’ said President Museveni … the ICC suddenly became his enemy….Frankly, once you call the ICC to investigate a situation in your country  you can’t  dictate them which crime to look at and which to close their eye on in the same situation…This is simply an instrumentalisation of the Court.

In 2003, even before formally ratifying the ICC treaty, Côte d’Ivoire government of Laurent Gbagbo had officially recognized the jurisdiction of the ICC … Laurent Gbabo was likely targeting his political enemies … but the power has changed camp so far… It was therefore President Allassane Ouatarra who delivered Gbagbo to the ICC on the basis of the same special recognition signed by Gbagbo himself.

In 2004, President Joseph Kabila used the ICC to get rid of some embarrassing alleged criminals, but he was also delighted to see his political challengers Jean Pierre Bemba carried away by the ICC in a case linked to the CAR.

In 2004, the Government of Francois Bozize lodged a case with the ICC against war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the context of the violence in the CAR between 2002 and 2003

So, here are only the cases of Sudan and to a certain extent that of Libya that have escaped the control of the country where ICC investigation are taking place. Therefore, is the ICC targeting Africa or African leaders? Judge it yourself!

But why does not the ICC take care of the others?

Despite the above, this question is worth asking. I personally support on-going ICC investigations in Africa because innocent Africans have been massacred by Africans with the support and the blessing of other Africans regardless of whether they are Heads of State, Vice-President or otherwise. Their official functions do not confer on them the right to massacre citizens. Indeed, the status of the ICC does not recognize the official status of anybody … this is the innovative and progressive aspect of the court, in favour of the victims.

Why does the ICC delaying to take concrete actions in favour of Iraqi, Palestinian, Syrian, and Afghani … victims? (Even if some of those countries are currently under preliminary investigation)… The answers to this question are unfortunately not as “just” as one would like: Because these countries are not party to the ICC Statute, or because one or several powerful countries endowed with veto power in the UN Security Council would certainly oppose it for unfair reasons that we all know… In fact, only 2 of the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council are parties to the ICC: France and the United Kingdom.

Many unanswered questions on the ICC: Why does the ICC always go for the defeated rather than the victors who are also guilty of crimes such as in Côte d’Ivoire and maybe in the CAR and the DRC? Why is it that only the United Nations Security Council has the power to refer cases to the Court and even to temporarily stop investigations of the Court while this Council is the most unequal and the least representative institution in our world? Why do they oppose the UN General Assembly exercising the same power?

These questions and many others obviously weaken the credibility of the ICC but … who is responsible for it and who must correct it?

A Collective Withdrawal from the ICC by African Countries?

The ICC has problems, it is true, but I do not think that these problems justify the entire war launched against the Court by the African Union. Atrocities are actually committed, Africans are massacred by other Africans and there is no functional mechanism to date in Africa to punish the perpetrators of these international crimes and to do justice to the victims. With regard to Africa, the ICC is therefore the only functional judicial mechanism on this day to try these crimes.

The so-called “mass withdrawal strategy” of the AU is rather a document that indicates the grievances and demands of the African Union on the ICC and its functioning in particular the fact that the court targets only African leaders, the issue of immunity of the Heads of State and the request of the African Union to suspend the cases against Sudanese and Kenyan leaders. This document adopted by the last AU Summit also includes a study of national procedures for an eventual individual withdrawal of member states from the Court. “Collective withdrawal” from a treaty is an incorrect language. It does not exist in international law. The African Union may just be using it as an instrument of political pressure to catalyse changes in the ICC.

Is not the ICC a common heritage that should help us to create a more just world? All nations, including African nations and their stakeholders, must work together to improve the ICC. Abandoning it or leaving it should not be an option … and I am pleased that a number of African countries have entered reservations on the “mass withdrawal strategy” during the AU Summit discussions. I have just learned that Gambia, which had previously announced its withdrawal from the ICC, has changed its mind. The government has just informed the United Nations that Gambia remains a state party to the ICC Treaty. Good news !

A mass withdrawal of African countries from the ICC would be a shame, a terrible contempt for African victims and an encouragement for criminals and their supporters… I know it will not happen. In fact 17 AU member states rejected the strategy… This is a terrible failure for the minority that initiated it.

The African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights: An African Solution?

The slogan “African Solutions for African Problems” is beautiful but it will only convince me under two conditions: 1/the bill of the African solution must also be paid by  Africa (I recall that Africa did not pay the bill of  Hissen Habré trial) and 2/ universal human rights and justice standards must be applied because human rights and  justice principles have no nationality or regional identity. They are simply and unequivocally universal.

Having said this, the body that ensures justice does not matter if justice is fair and equitable. But the reality is that the African Court of Human Rights today has only a “promise” of criminal jurisdiction. This means that the court has no jurisdiction over international crimes at this time and I do not see any political will from our countries to make it happen any time soon. Almost 20 years after the adoption of the Protocol that established the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights (with no criminal jurisdiction) only 30 African States out of 54 ratified it. Moreover the amended protocol giving criminal jurisdiction to the Court has not been ratified by any African state, 2 years after its adoption in Malabo. The worst is that the Malabo Protocol ensured immunity for heads of state during their tenures. I consider this provision as an “authorization to kill” while on power and an “encouragement” to cling on power forever in order  to be protected against prosecutions…  The observation is clear: Withdrawing from the ICC before an African court is able to judge and punish serious and heinous crimes is simply guarantying impunity and abandoning the victims. This is against the spirit of the Constitutive Act of our African Union.

I also invite you  to read my interviews on the ICC  with Radio France Internationale and Le Monde Newspaper on the following links:

http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20170209-cour-penale-internationale-union-africaine-liaisons-ambigues-retrait-collectif

http://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2017/02/03/l-afrique-veut-elle-vraiment-en-finir-avec-la-cour-penale-internationale_5074120_3212.html

Your comments are welcome on the blog or by email: assogbavi@me.com

La Cour Pénale Internationale ou l’Union Africaine : Qui Peut Rendre Justice aux Victimes Africaines ?

English version here

J’ai passé plusieurs années de ma carrière professionnelle à travailler sur les droits de l’homme et la justice d’abord en tant que fondateur et président du Juris-Club, puis  Membre de la Commission Nationale des Droits de l’Homme du Togo à la suite de mon élection par l’Assemblée Nationale du Togo et ensuite comme Officier de Liaison pour l’Afrique de la Coalition pour la Cour Pénale Internationale  à New York entre autre…Le conflit entre l’Union Africaine et la Cour pénale internationale (CPI) m’interpelle donc à plusieurs égards mais surtout en tant qu’Africain épris de justice.

Je vous propose dans les lignes qui suivent des réflexions personnelles sur les différents épisodes du feuilleton « CPI contre Union Africaine ».

L’Essentiel de la Cour Pénale Internationale (CPI)

La création de la Cour Pénale Internationale est un pas important dans les efforts déployés par l’humanité pour rendre notre monde plus juste. La cour a été créée par un traité de droit international « Le Traité de Rome » adopté en 1998 et entré en vigueur  en 2002. La CPI ne vise que les crimes les plus graves notamment le génocide, les crimes de guerres, les crimes contre l’humanité, et le crime d’agression et ce, seulement lorsque les Etats ne sont pas en mesure ou n’ont pas la volonté de juger ces crimes eux même. La Cour peut être saisie par un état partie, le procureur et le Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies. Le Statut de la Cour s’applique à tous de manière égale, sans aucune distinction fondée sur la qualité officielle. En particulier la qualité de chef d’État ou de gouvernement, de membre d’un gouvernement ou d’un parlement, de représentant élu ou d’agent d’un État, n’exonère en aucun cas de la responsabilité pénale au regard du Statut (…) : Article 27.

La Place de l’Afrique dans la CPI

L’Afrique est le bloc géographique le plus représenté à la CPI. 124 pays sont présentement États Parties au Statut de la Cour pénale internationale : Afrique : 34, Asie et Pacifiques : 19, Europe Orientale : 18, Amérique Latine et Caraïbes : 28, Europe Occidentale et autres : 25. Les juges de la cour proviennent équitablement de toutes les régions du monde. Des 18 juges de la cour 4 sont Africains : Kenya (vice-présidente), Nigeria, RDC, Botswana. Par ailleurs, la procureure de la cour est Gambienne.

La CPI vise-t-elle particulièrement l’Afrique ou les Leaders Africains ?

A ce jour la CPI a ouvert des enquêtes dans 9 pays dont 8 en Afrique : Ouganda, RDC, Soudan, RCA, Kenya, Libye, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali.  Ceci démontre clairement que la CPI opère essentiellement en Afrique et il est vrai qu’aujourd’hui l’Afrique n’est pas le seul continent ou les crimes relevant de la compétence de la CPI sont commis mais saviez- vous comment et pourquoi est-on arrivé à cette concentration des activités de la CPI en Afrique ?

D’abord c’est le Président Ougandais Yoweri Museveni  qui a été le premier Chef d’Etat à saisir la CPI de la situation au Nord de l’Ouganda en Janvier 2004 contre son opposant Joseph Kony et l’Armée de Résistance du Seigneur, un groupe armé particulièrement violent et responsable d’atrocités. Ensuite c’est le gouvernement de la RDC sous le Président Joseph Kabila qui a saisi la CPI de la situation dans son pays. S’en sont suivi les gouvernements de la République Centrafricaine, et du Mali qui ont eux aussi saisi la cour. En 2003, avant même de ratifier formellement le traité de la CPI le gouvernement de Laurent Gbagbo avait officiellement reconnu  la compétence de la CPI sur la Cote d’Ivoire.

En bref, les gouvernements de 4 des 8 pays africains sous enquête ont eux-mêmes saisi la CPI (Ouganda, RDC, RCA, Mali). La procureure de la cour a ouvert des enquêtes de sa propre initiative dans 2 pays avec la pleine coopération de leurs gouvernements (Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire) et le Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unis avait saisi la cour dans 2  autres cas (Soudan et   Libye).

Il est donc évident eu égard à ce constat   que ce sont les leaders Africains qui sont allés vers la CPI et non pas le contraire… mais pourquoi ? Et pourquoi sont – ils contre la Cour aujourd’hui ?

Les Leaders Africains avaient-ils compris la CPI autrement ?

En 2004, le Président Museveni avait saisi la CPI contre son opposant Joseph Kony et  l’Armée de Résistance du Seigneur… Mais au cours des enquêtes il y eu des indices selon lesquelles l’Armée régulière de l’Ouganda (UPDF) aurait aussi commis des crimes relevant de la compétence de la Cour, et donc susceptible d’être jugés par la CPI avec une possibilité d’implication du Président Museveni lui-même…. Pas question !!! selon le president  Museveni… la CPI devient du coup son ennemi juré ….Franchement, une fois que vous appelez la CPI pour enquêter sur une situation dans votre pays, vous ne pouvez pas lui dicter quels crimes regarder et sur quels crimes fermer les yeux dans la même situation … Ceci serait  une instrumentation pure et simple de la Cour.

En 2003, si, avant même de ratifier formellement le traité de la CPI, le gouvernement de Laurent Gbagbo avait officiellement reconnu  la compétence de la Cour sur la Cote d’Ivoir, Laurent Gbabo visait vraisemblablement ses ennemis politiques… mais le pouvoir avait changé de camp par la suite; c’était donc le Président Allassane Ouatarra qui livra Laurent Gbagbo à la CPI sur la base de la même reconnaissance spéciale signée par Mr. Gbagbo lui-même.

En 2004, Joseph Kabila s’est servi de la CPI pour se débarrasser de certains criminels de guerres présumés et gênants mais il s’était certainement aussi réjoui de voir son challenger politique Jean Pierre Bemba, emporté par la CPI dans une affaire liée à la RCA.

En 2004 le Gouvernement de Francois Bozize avait saisi la CPI contre  des crimes de guerre et crimes contre l’humanité qui auraient été commis dans le contexte des violences en République Centrafricaine entre 2002 et 2003.

Il n’y a donc que le cas du Soudan et dans une certaine mesure,  celui de la Libye qui ont échappé au contrôle du pays en question. La CPI vise-t-elle l’Afrique ou les leaders Africains ? Jugez-en vous-même !

Mais pourquoi la CPI ne s’occupe-t-elle pas des autres ?

Malgré ce qui précède, cette question vaut la peine d’être posée. Je soutiens personnellement toutes les enquêtes de la cour en Afrique car des innocents africains  ont été effectivement massacrés par des africains sous des ordres et avec le soutien d’autres Africains peu importe  si les présumés  coupables sont Chefs d’Etat, Vice-Président ou autre. Leurs fonctions officielles ne leur confèrent pas le droit de tuer ou de faire massacrer les citoyens. D’ailleurs le statut de la CPI ne reconnait pas la qualité officielle de qui que ce soit… c’est cela même le coté innovateur  de la CPI et ce, en faveur des victimes.

Pourquoi la CPI tarde à agir concrètement en faveur des victimes Irakiennes, Palestiniennes, Syriennes, Afghanes… ? (Même si certains de ces pays sont présentement sous enquête préliminaires)… les réponses ne sont malheureusement pas aussi « justes » qu’on le souhaiterait : Parce que ces pays ne sont pas parties au statut de la CPI, ou encore parce qu’un ou plusieurs pays puissants dotés du droit de veto au Conseil de Sécurité s’y opposeraient certainement pour des raisons injustes que nous connaissons tous… En effet seuls 2 des 5 membres permanents du Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies sont parties à la CPI : la France et le Royaume Uni.

Beaucoup de Questions sans Réponses : Pourquoi la CPI ne s’attaque le plus souvent qu’aux vaincus et non pas aux vainqueurs qui seraient aussi coupables de crimes comme en côte d’Ivoire  et peut être en RCA et en RDC ?  Pourquoi c’est au Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies seulement qu’il est donné  le droit de référer des cas à la Cour  et même de différer des enquêtes de la Cour  alors que ce Conseil est l’institution la plus injuste et la moins représentative de notre monde ? Pourquoi s’oppose-t-on à ce que l’Assemblée Générale des Nations  Unies exerce ce même pouvoir ?

Ces  questions et bien d’autres affaiblissent évidement la crédibilité de la CPI mais… qui en est responsable et qui doit et la corriger ?

Un Retrait Collectif de la CPI par l’Afrique ?

La CPI a des problèmes, il est vrai, mais je ne pense pas que ces problèmes  justifient toute la guerre déclenchée contre la Cour par l’Union Africaine. Des atrocités sont effectivement commises, des Africains sont massacrés  en masse par d’autres Africains et il n’existe aucun mécanisme fonctionnel à ce jour pour punir les coupables de ces crimes internationaux et rendre justice aux victimes. En ce qui concerne l’Afrique, la CPI est donc le seul mécanisme juridictionnel fonctionnel en ce jour pour connaitre de ces crimes…

Comme son nom ne l’indique pas, la « stratégie de retrait collectif » de l’Union Africaine est plutôt un document qui énumère les griefs et revendications de l’Union Africaine contre la CPI et son fonctionnement  notamment le fait que la Cour ne cible que les leaders Africains, la question de l’immunité des Chefs d’Etat et la demande de l’Union Africaine, adressée au Conseil de Sécurité  de suspendre les poursuites contre les dirigeants Soudanais et Kenyans. Le document, adopté par le dernier Sommet de l’Union comporte aussi une étude des procédures nationales  de retrait individuel éventuel d’Etats membres de l’UA.  Le «retrait collectif» d’un traité est un abus de langage. Il n’existe pas en droit international. L’Union Africaine l’utilise peut être comme un instrument de pression politique pour catalyser des changements à la CPI…

Mais la CPI n’est-elle pas un patrimoine commun qui doit nous aider à créer un monde plus juste ? Toutes les nations y compris africaines et leurs composantes ne doivent-elles pas œuvrer ensemble pour l’améliorer ? L’abandonner ou la quitter ne doit pas être une option… et je me réjouis du fait que 16 pays Africains aient émis des réserves sur le texte lors des débats au cours du dernier Sommet.

Je viens même d’apprendre que la Gambie qui avait précédemment annoncé son retrait de la CPI a changé d’avis. Le gouvernement vient d’informer les Nations Unies que la Gambie reste bel et bien état partie au Statut de la CPI. Bonne nouvelle !

Un retrait en grand nombre des pays Africains de la CPI serait une honte, un mépris terrible pour les victimes Africaines et un encouragement pour les bourreaux et potentiel bourreaux…   je sais que cela n’arrivera pas.

La Cour Africaine des Droits de l’Homme et des Peuples : Une Solution Africaine ?

Le Slogan « Solutions Africaine aux Problèmes Africains » est bien beau mais il ne me convainc qu’a deux conditions : La facture de la solution africaine doit être aussi payée  par l’Afrique (je rappelle  que l’Afrique n’avait pas payé la facture du procès de Hissen Habré) et les normes universelles des droits de l’homme et de justice doivent être appliquées car les droits de l’homme et les principes de justice n’ont pas de nationalité ou d’identité régionale . Ils sont simplement universels.

Ceci étant dit, l’organe qui rend la justice importe peu si cette justice est juste et équitable mais la réalité est que la Cour Africaine des Droits de l’Homme n’a en ce jour qu’une « promesse » de compétence pénale. Ce qui veut dire qu’elle ne peut pas connaitre des crimes internationaux  en ce moment et je ne vois aucune volonté politique de la part de nos états de le concrétiser bientôt. Presque 20 ans après l’adoption du Protocol de la Cour Africaine des Droits de l’Homme et des Peuples (sans compétence pénale)  seuls 30 Etats Africains sur 54 l’on ratifié. Par ailleurs le protocole amendé  donnant compétence pénale à  la Cour n’a été ratifié en ce jour par aucun état africain, 2 ans après son adoption à Malabo. Le constat est donc clair : Se retirer de la CPI avant qu’une cour Africaine soit capable de juger et punir les crimes graves c’est tout simplement garantir l’impunité et mépriser les victimes. Ce qui est encore navrant est que le Protocole de Malabo consacre l’immunité des chefs d’état dans l’exercice de leur fonction, même pour des crimes internationaux. Je considère cela non seulement comme « un permis de tuer » sans soucis d’être inquiété  mais aussi une incitation pour les dictateurs de s’accrocher indéfiniment au pouvoir. Ceci est aussi contraire à l’Acte Constitutif de notre Union Africaine.

Je vous invite aussi à lire mes interviews sur Radio France Internationale  et le journal Le Monde sur le même sujet à partir des liens suivants :

http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20170209-cour-penale-internationale-union-africaine-liaisons-ambigues-retrait-collectif

http://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2017/02/03/l-afrique-veut-elle-vraiment-en-finir-avec-la-cour-penale-internationale_5074120_3212.html

Vos commentaires sont les bienvenus sur le blog ou par email : assogbavi@me.com

Key Decisions of the AU Summit

(Non-official Summary)

The 28th African Union (AU) summit held in Addis Ababa on 30-31st January was a historical one given the landmark decisions adopted, including the admission of Morocco into the Union and a deep reform of the continental body.  The summit also renewed the leadership of the AUC and took steps towards financial independence  of the Union. Albeit the lack of strong country/context related decisions on Peace and Security issues, the Assembly adopted the Master Plan towards Silencing the Guns by 2020. Finally, the summit adopted the so called ‘collective withdrawal strategy’, a misnomer of a document which provides member states with  a roadmap for eventual individual withdrawal from the ICC in case AU’s claims and proposals regarding the court and some of its  on-going operations are not taken in consideration.

INSTITUTIONAL REFORM

The Summit;

    • Took note of the recommendations for the proposed reforms to further strengthen the African Union, in the following five areas: a) Focus on key priorities with continental scope; b) Realign African Union institutions in order to deliver against those priorities; c) Connect the African Union to its citizens; d) Manage the business of the African Union efficiently and effectively at both the political and operational levels; e) Finance the African Union sustainably and with the full ownership of the Member States.
    • Decided to adopt the recommendations in the Report as amended by Member States during the Retreat’s deliberations (see below)
    • Mandated President Paul Kagame, in his capacity as the lead on the institutional reform of the Union, in collaboration with President Idriss Deby Itno, of Chad in his capacity as the outgoing Chairperson and President Alpha Conde, of the Republic of Guinea in his capacity as the current Chairperson, to supervise the implementation process;
    • The Incoming Commission elected at the January 2017 Summit shall put in place a Reform Implementation Unit at the AU Commission, within the Bureau of the Chairperson, responsible for the day-to-day coordination and implementation of this decision;
    • The Incoming Commission shall also make recommendations on a mechanism to ensure that legally binding decisions and commitments are implemented by Member States;
    • President Paul Kagame shall report at each Ordinary Session of the Assembly on progress made with the implementation of this decision.

Focus on key priorities with continental scope:

i) The African Union should focus on a fewer number of priority areas, which are by nature continental in scope, such as political affairs, peace and security, economic integration (including the Continental Free Trade Area), and Africa’s global representation and voice;

ii) There should be a clear division of labour and effective collaboration between the African Union, the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the Regional Mechanisms (RMs), the Member States, and other continental institutions, in line with the principle of subsidiarity.

Realigning African Union institutions in order to deliver against those priorities

i) The Commission should initiate, without delay, a professional audit of bureaucratic bottlenecks and inefficiencies that impede service delivery and the recommendations therein;

ii) The Commission’s structures should be re-evaluated to ensure that they have the right size and capabilities to deliver on the agreed priorities;

iii) The Commission’s senior leadership team should be lean and performance-oriented;

iv) NEPAD should be fully integrated into the Commission as the African Union’s development agency, aligned with the agreed priorities and underpinned by an enhanced results-monitoring framework;

v) The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) should be strengthened to track implementation and oversee monitoring and evaluation in key governance areas of the continent;

vi) The roles and functions of the African Union judicial organs and the Pan-African Parliament should be reviewed and clarified, and their progress to date assessed;

vii) The Peace and Security Council (PSC) should be reformed to ensure that it meets the ambition foreseen in its Protocol, by strengthening its working methods and its role in conflict prevention and crisis management;

viii) The Permanent Representatives Committee’s (PRC) Rules of Procedures should be reviewed and be in line with the mandate provided for in the Constitutive Act of the African Union. The PRC should facilitate communication between the African Union and national capitals, and act as an advisory body to the Executive Council, and not as a supervisory body of the Commission.

Connecting the African Union to its citizens

i) The Commission should establish women and youth quotas across its institutions and identify appropriate ways and means to ensure the private sector’s participation;

ii) The Commission should establish an African Youth Corps, as well as develop programs to facilitate cultural and sports exchange among Member States;

iii) Member States should make the African passport available to all eligible citizens as quickly as possible, in line with the Assembly decision Assembly/AU/Dec.607 (XXVII) adopted in Kigali, Rwanda in July 2016

iv) The Commission should identify and provide a set of new capabilities or ‘assets’ in the form of common continent-wide public goods and services valued by Member States and citizens. Such services could include the provision of neutral arbitration and competition services, or a common technical platform for the data and analysis needed to assess Africa’s progress toward its development goals;

v) Member States should engage their Parliaments and citizens, including civil society, on the African Union reform process.

Managing the business of the African Union efficiently and Effectively, at both political and operational levels

Political management of the Union

i) The African Union Assembly shall handle an agenda of no more than three (3) strategic items at each Summit, in line with the Me’kelle Ministerial Retreat recommendations. Other appropriate business should be delegated to the Executive Council

ii) The Assembly shall hold one Ordinary Summit per year, and shall hold extraordinary sessions as the need arise

iii) In place of the June/July Summit, the Bureau of the African Union Assembly should hold a coordination meeting with Regional Economic Communities, with the participation of the Chairpersons of the Regional Economic Communities, the AU Commission and Regional Mechanisms. Ahead of this meeting, the AU Commission shall play a more active coordination and harmonisation role with the Regional Economic Communities, in line with the Abuja Treaty;

iv) External parties shall only be invited to Summits on an exceptional basis and for a specific purpose determined by in the interests of the African Union;

v) Partnership Summits convened by external parties should be reviewed with a view to providing an effective framework for African Union Africa should be represented by the Troika, namely the current, incoming and outgoing Chairpersons of the African Union, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, and the Chairpersons of the Regional Economic Communities;

vi) To ensure continuity and effective implementation of Assembly decisions, a troika arrangement between the outgoing, the current, and the incoming African Union Chairpersons should be established. In this regard, the incoming chairperson shall be selected one year in advance;

vii) Heads of State shall be represented at Summits by officials not lower than the level of Vice President, Prime Minister or equivalent;

viii) The current sanctions mechanism should be strengthened and enforced. This would include consideration of making participation in the African Union deliberations contingent on adherence to Summit decisions.

Operational management of the Union 

i) The election of the Chairperson of the AU Commission should be enhanced by a robust, merit-based, and transparent selection process;

ii) The Deputy Chairperson and Commissioners should be competitively recruited in line with best practice and appointed by the Chairperson of the Commission, to whom they should be directly accountable, taking into account gender and regional diversity, amongst other relevant considerations;

iii) The Deputy Chairperson role should be reframed to be responsible for the efficient and effective functioning of the Commission’s administration;

iv) The title of Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson may also be reconsidered;

v) A fundamental review of the structure and staffing needs of the organisation, as well as conditions of service, should be undertaken to ensure alignment with agreed priority areas.

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT (ICC)

The Summit;

  • Adopted the ICC Withdrawal Strategy and called on member states to consider implementing its recommendations… But  many countries entered reservations to the text.
  • Requested the Group of African States Parties in New York in collaboration with AU Commission to actively participate in the deliberations of the Working Group on Amendments to ensure that African proposals are adequately considered and addressed;

ADMISSION OF MOROCCO

The Summit;

  • Welcomed the request from the Kingdom of Morocco as it provides the opportunity to reunite the African community of states around the Pan-African core values of the Founders of solidarity, unity, freedom and equality, in accordance with the Principles and Objectives of the Constitutive Act. This will strengthen the ability of the African Union to find African solutions to African problems;
  • Decided to admit the Kingdom of Morocco as a new Member State of the African Union in conformity with Article 9(c) and Article 29 of the Constitutive Act of the African Union;
  • Requested  Morocco to deposit their instrument of accession to the Constitutive Act of the African Union.

WESTERN SAHARA

The Summit;

  • Noted with deep concerns the continued impasse in the search for a solution to the conflict in and underlined the urgent need for renewed international efforts to facilitate an early resolution of the conflict. In this respect, the Assembly called again to the UN General Assembly to determine a date for the holding of the self-determination referendum for the people of Western Sahara and protect the integrity of the Western Sahara as a non-self-governing territory from any act which may undermine it.
  • Urged the UN Security Council to fully assume its responsibilities in restoring the full functionality of United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), as it is indispensable for overseeing the ceasefire and organizing the self-determination referendum in Western Sahara, as well as in addressing the issues of the respect of human rights and the illegal exploration and exploitation of the Territory’s natural resources, particularly in line with the important judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union issued on 21 December 2016, on the arrangement between the EU and Morocco signed in 2012, on the mutual liberalization of the trade in agricultural and fishing products.

PEACE & SECURITY

 The Summit;

    • Emphasized the need for all AU Member States, in particular the PSC, to give more focus on conflict prevention, early warning and early response, in order to prevent, for future, occurrence of full blown conflicts in the continent.
    • Endorsed the African Union Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by year 2020, as a guideline for Africa’s efforts to this end.
    • Directed the PSC to establish a monitoring and evaluation mechanism on the basis of which the Assembly will periodically review progress in the implementation of the Master Roadmap;

FINANCING THE AFRICAN UNION

The Summit; 

i) The Committee of Ten Finance Ministers should assume responsibility for oversight of the African Union budget and Reserve Fund and develop a set of ‘golden rules’, establishing clear financial management and accountability principles;

ii) After funding of the budget of the African Union and the Peace Fund, the  balance of the proceeds of the 0.2% AU levy on eligible imports, the Committee of Ten Finance Ministers should look into placing surplus in a Reserve Fund for continental priorities as decided by the Assembly;

iv) The current scale of contributions should be revised based on the principles of ability to pay, solidarity, and equitable burden-sharing, to avoid risk concentration.

ELECTION AT THE LEADERSHIP OF THE UNION –

AU Chairperson for 2017: H.E. President Alpha Conde – Guinea

AU Learders elected 2017.jpg

Credit photo and draft decisions: African Union Commission

Gambia: Is the Swearing in of the President-Elect Legal?

See the French version here: https://assodesire.com/2017/01/19/gambie-la-prestation-de-serment-du-president-elu-est-elle-legale/

The new Gambian President Adama Barrow has just been sworn-in in an extraordinary circumstances. The ceremony took place at the Embassy of the Gambia in Senegal because of the refusal of the outgoing President Yahya Jammeh to leave power. Is it a legal act? I am sharing  my personal opinions on the issue:

The legitimacy of the President comes essentially from his election by the people of Gambia who hold the national sovereignty exercised through elections. The majority of the Gambians have thus entrusted this sovereignty to the President by the elections that took place in December 2016.

The swearing in (or the taking of oath) is a statutory declaration of the President-Elect made before a judge or an oath officer during a public ceremony to formalize the President’s installation. What is important in the swearing in is the formula, provided for by law and read by the President. The oath is a promise announced in a ceremonious and public manner, insisting on the sacred and unswerving character of the words spoken with the affirmation of a divine bearing. It has to be done in front of a judge, a lawyer or a commissioner of oath. The place of the oath therefore has no bearing on its legal value. In fact, the constitution of the Gambia remains silent on the place where the taking of the oath should happen. It only referred to a “prescribed oath”.

Why was it important that President-elect Adama Barrow takes an oath on the 19th January?

If President-elect Barrow has not taken the oath on this date there would be a power vacuum in the Gambia and anything could happen…including the army re-taking power. In addition, now that he has taken the oath, he becomes the legitimate president of Gambia and can now request a military intervention of ECOWAS to re-establish order in the Gambia including kicking the outgoing president out by all means without having the approval of the UN Security Council.

Is an embassy part of the national territory?

Contrary to popular belief, the embassy is not part of the national territory of the sending state. The Vienna Convention of 1961 on Diplomatic Relations does not provide for the extraterritoriality of embassies. However the mission is normally considered as a property and symbol of the state and the authorities of the sending state have absolute control over what is happening inside the embassy. Its inviolability is thus guaranteed by the Convention. For example, agents of the host country are prohibited from entering in, except with the consent of the head of the mission, and must “take all appropriate measures to prevent invasion of the premises of the mission”. Some countries even consider that their own national law and regulations apply inside their embassies.

In conclusion, the swearing in of President elect Adama Barrow took place on Senegal’s  territory but it retains all its legal value.

Read my anticipated scenarios for Gambia’s next? here: https://assodesire.com/2017/01/17/political-crisis-in-the-gambia-scenarios-of-the-next-days/

Gambie: La Prestation de Serment du Président-élu est-elle légale?

Voir la version en Anglais ici: https://assodesire.com/2017/01/19/gambia-is-the-swearing-in-of-the-president-elect-legal/

Le nouveau Président Gambien Adama Barrow vient de prêter serment. Fait rare, la cérémonie a eu lieu à l’ambassade de la Gambie au Sénégal  à cause du refus du président  sortant  Yahya Jammeh de quitter le pouvoir. Est-ce un acte légal ? J’aimerais  partager ici mon opinion sur la question.

La légitimité du Président vient essentiellement de son élection par le peuple Gambien qui détient la souveraineté nationale  exercée  par les élections.  La majorité du peuple Gambien a donc confié cette souverainement au président par les élections qui ont eu lieu en Décembre 2016.

La  prestation de serment est une déclaration solennelle du Président élu faite devant un juge, un officier public ou un commissaire à l’assermentation au cours d’une cérémonie publique destinée à officialiser  l’installation du Président. Ce qui est important dans la prestation du serment est la formule, prévue par la loi et lue par le président.  Le serment est une promesse annoncée de manière cérémonieuse et publique en insistant sur le caractère sacré et indéfectible des paroles prononcées avec l’affirmation d’une portée divine. Le lieu du serment n’as donc aucune incidence sur sa valeur juridique. D’ailleurs la constitution de la Gambie est restée muette sur le lieu de la prestation de serment du president.

Pourquoi était-il important que le président élu Adama Barrow prête serment le 19 janvier?

Si le président élu Barrow n’a pas prêté serment  à cette date, il y aurait un vide constitutionnel en Gambie et tout pourra arriver … y compris l’éventualité que  l’armée reprenne le pouvoir. En outre, maintenant qu’il a prêté serment, il devient le président  légitime et peut demander une intervention militaire de la CEDEAO pour rétablir l’ordre en Gambie, y compris bouter le président sortant  dehors par tous les moyens sans l’aval du Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies.

Une ambassade fait-elle partie du territoire national ?

Contrairement à la croyance populaire l’ambassade ne fait pas partie du territoire national de l’Etat d’envoi. La Convention de Vienne de 1961 sur les relations diplomatiques ne prévoit pas l’extraterritorialité des ambassades. Cependant la mission est considérée comme une propriété  et un symbole de l’Etat et les autorités de l’Etat d’envoi ont un contrôle absolu sur ce qui se passe à l’intérieur de l’ambassade.   Son inviolabilité est donc garantie par la Convention. Par exemple les agents du pays hôte ont interdiction d’y “pénétrer, sauf avec le consentement du chef de la mission”, et doivent “prendre toutes les mesures appropriées afin d’empêcher que les locaux de la mission ne soient envahis”.

Certains pays considèrent même que c’est leur loi nationale qui s’applique au sein de leurs ambassades. Ceci pourra aussi dépendre des pratiques de l’Etat d’accueil puisque le droit international est resté muet là-dessus.

En conclusion, la prestation de serment d’Adama Barrow a bien eu lieu au Sénégal mais elle garde toute sa valeur juridique.

Vos commentaires sont les bienvenues.

Lire mes previsions de scenarios pour la crise Gambienne ici: https://assodesire.com/2017/01/17/crise-politique-en-gambie-les-scenarios-des-prochains-jours/