Refugee Rights News






Using International Justice to Prevent and Find Solutions to Conflict and Displacement in Africa

Recent publications of the International Refugee Rights Initiative related to International Justice:

Victims Rights Working Group, Recommendations to the 15th Assembly of States Parties, November 2016

African Civil Society Call for Support of the International Criminal Court in the wake of Withdrawals, 14 November 2016

Olivia Bueno, "Sudan: The Limits of a Lonely Court," published in Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: The Deterrent Effect of the International Criminal Court, published by the International Nuremburg Principles Academy, 4 November 2016.

A Way Forward for the Hybrid Court for South Sudan, Joint NGO Statement, 1 November 2016, in English and in French.

Letter Regarding Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) of the Agreement for Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan. 17 June 2016

Renewing the Promise of the International Criminal Court: A Critical Review of the Court’s Role in Promoting Accountability in Africa. (En francais.)

Sexual Crimes - Largely Forgotten in the Habré Case, 16 October 2015. (Press release, open letter).

Olivia Bueno, "Between Hope and Skepticism: Congolese Await the Trial of Ntaganda," 2 September 2015

Djibril Balde, "New efforts to ensure justice for Chebeya in Senegal," 25 August 2015

IRRI signs joint NGO letter to AU PSC urging release of AU Commission of Inquiry for South Sudan report, 23 July 2015 (press release, full letter).

IRRI signs joint NGO letter to the AU PSC on the AU Commission of Inquiry for South Sudan, 3 March 2015 (English) (French) (Spanish).

Lucy Hovil, "Ongwen and the ICC: talking justice in Uganda,"10 February 2015

Olivia Bueno, "Reactions to the Sentencing of Germain Katanga: Some Comfort, Some Frustration," 11 June 2014

For the full list of related publications, click here.

Our Approach

The intimate relationship between impunity, mass exodus and regional security in Africa was demonstrated hauntingly by the massive failure of the international community to respond appropriately to the 1994 Rwanda genocide, both prior to the disaster and to the outflow of refugees that followed. Integrating the principles of human rights and international justice into responses to forceddisplacement is a major focus of IRRI’s work.  In 2008, IRRI published In the Interests of Justice? Prospects and Challenges for International Justice in Africa, a review of the impact of international justice concepts and mechanisms on the local experience of seeking accountability inAfrica. The review built on a multi-year research and consultation project with experts from Liberia, to the DRC, toSudan and proposed a civil society agenda for research, monitoring and advocacy.

Although the African experience has been critical in developing concepts of international justice through its experience of the ad hoc tribunals and support for the creation of the ICC, there is now considerable tension about the future of these concepts on the continent. African heads of state have vociferously protested the issue of an arrest warrant by the ICC for the Sudanese President. Even friends of the ICC have expressed serious concerns about the conduct of the four African investigations before the Court, pointing to critical missteps in terms of outreach to victim communities and protection of those who support or assist its work. IRRI’s justice programme has two major but intertwined pillars:

With the Sudan Consortium, IRRI activities have spanned political advocacy with African states on the ICC referral (from its initiation to the Article 16 debate), monitoring the impact of the ICC in Sudan, providing advice and support to the Court, and, most recently, responding to the urgent protection needs of human rights defenders who have promoted international justice.


Just Justice: Civil society, international justice and the search for accountability in Africa

A paper series developed by the International Refugee Rights Initiative in collaboration with local partners in Africa reflecting local perspectives on experiences with international justice. The series is designed to more fully explore perceptions of international justice and the social, political and legal impact of its mechanisms at the local level. It is aimed at opening up a dialogue about the successes and failures of the international justice experiment in Africa and the development of recommendations for a more productive and effective engagement going forward.

The papers in the series are:

Steps Towards Justice, Frustrated Hopes: Reflecting on the Impact of the ICC in Ituri, paper no. 2, March 2012. Lisez la version francaise.

A Poisoned Chalice? Local civil society and the International Criminal Court's engagement in Uganda, paper no. 1, January 2012. Lisez la version francaise.

Just Justice: Civil society, international justice and the search for accountability in Africa, Introductory note to the paper series, January 2012. Lisez la version francaise.