Human Rights Roundtable: "The Politics of International Justice in the Great Lakes Region of Africa"


Location: Room 2130


“The Politics of International Justice in the Great Lakes Region of Africa (1994-2014).”

Over the last two decades, international criminal justice has occupied a prominent place on the international agenda. The period coincides with twenty years of instability, violence, and atrocities in the Great Lakes region of Africa. The conflict, allegedly the deadliest since the end of the Cold War, can be broken down into the Rwandan civil war and genocide (1994), the First Congo War (October 1996 – May 1997), the Second Congo War or ‘Great War of Africa’ (August 1998 – July 2003), and the Third Congo War (2003 – 2013(?)). Each conflict involved a multitude of local and regional actors and together they produced a geopolitical shift.

International criminal justice initiatives to end impunity in the region include the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (1994-2014), numerous trials of Rwandan génocidaires in Europe and Canada on the basis of universal jurisdiction, and International Criminal Court investigations and trials (2004-2014). The achievements are significant but so are the shortcomings: the failure of the ICTR to prosecute the victors of the Rwandan civil war and the failure to hold anybody accountable at all for atrocities committed during the First and Second Congo War. Also troubling, but perhaps inevitable, is the expediency of ICC interventions in the region (Congo, Uganda, and the Central African Republic) and the instrumentalization of international criminal justice by political actors.