This paper considers the decision by the African Union (AU) to expand the jurisdiction of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights to act as an international criminal court with jurisdiction over the international crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, as well as several transnational crimes. At an AU meeting from 14–15 May 2012 a draft protocol to effect that expansion was approved and has been recommended to the AU Assembly for adoption. The short time frame which the AU has provided for the complex task of drafting the protocol occurs against the backdrop of the fractured relationship between the AU and the International Criminal Court (ICC). The process of expanding the African Court’s jurisdiction is fraught with complexities and has implications on an international, regional and domestic level. All these implications need to be considered, particularly the impact on domestic laws and obligations, and the relationship between African states parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC, the ICC itself and the African Court.
About the author
Max du Plessis is an associate professor of law at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, a senior research associate at the International Crime in Africa Programme at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, and a practising Barrister. He has published widely in the fields of international criminal law, international law, public law and human rights.