African Presidents and the International Criminal Court: A legal analysis of the African Union's concerns about the prosecution and trial of sitting heads of state and government

Abel Sibolt Knottnerus

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

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The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague has faced many challenges since its establishment in 1998. One of the greatest challenges for the Court so far is its very tense relationship with Africa. The prosecution of African Presidents like Omar al-Bashir (Sudan) and Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya) have led the African Union to perceive the Court as a threat to the stability and sovereignty of African states. Most recently, the African Union has even adopted a collective withdrawal strategy which encourages African states to leave the ICC. In response, the Court has made several efforts to keep the African states on board. For now these efforts have prevented further escalation. Yet, none of the Court’s initiatives has really helped to resolve the underlying concerns of African states.

In the dissertation ‘African Presidents and the International Criminal Court’ Abel Knottnerus examines the concerns of African states about the ICC. The dissertation focusses especially on controversial issues like the immunity of sitting Heads of State and the difficult balance between peace and prosecution. When can a sitting Heads of State invoke immunity before the ICC? In what ways can the Court try to protect the interests of peace? And how should the Court treat a suspect who continues to function as President during the course of his trial? Knottnerus addresses these and other questions in the context of the African Union’s ongoing campaign against the ICC.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Zwitter, Andrej, Supervisor
  • Fournet, Caroline, Supervisor
  • de Hoogh, André, Co-supervisor
Award date8-Jan-2018
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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