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Africa and the Future of International Criminal Justice

Africa and the Future of International Criminal Justice
  • Year of publication 2012
  • 488 pages
Editor:Vincent Nmehielle
Categories: Criminology General
Law International law
Law Law (general)
Icon_printbook 978‐94‐90947‐62‐0 | hardcover | 1st edition | € 92,50 / $ 117,45 / £ 92,22

Africa and the Future of International Criminal Justice examines critical issues concerning Africa as a place in which international criminal accountability mechanisms have played, and still continue to play a prominent role in the efforts to deal with and to tackle impunity for atrocity crimes. It interrogates important questions relating to Africa’s importance to international criminal justice as exemplified by the activities of international criminal accountability mechanisms. Some examples are the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the International Criminal Court (ICC).The contributions in the volume discuss the contentions about whether Africa is particularly targeted for international justice accountability experiments as well as the politics of international criminal justice. International politics continue to shape Africa’s relationship with international justice mechanisms and initiatives as demonstrated by the recent concerns of the African Union about the activities of the ICC in Africa. This publication clarifies that the ICC, as a permanent global international criminal accountability mechanism needs Africa and that Africa needs the ICC for full and effective realization of the normative prescriptions of the Rome Statute in Africa. In this regard the publication places the complementarity principle of the Rome Statute at the centre to enable Africa to take credible ownership of justice for atrocity crimes on the continent.

Target group

This publication is aimed at academics in the field of international public law and criminology.

Author's information

Professor Vincent O. Nmehielle has over 21 years of professional and academic experience. He is currently the Head of the Wits Programme in Law, Justice and Development in Africa at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) School of Law, Johannesburg, South Africa where he has taught since February 2002. He is a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. Nmehielle held the Bram Fischer Chair in Human Rights Law at Wits Law School from 2002-2004. He was a Professorial Lecturer in Law at the Oxford University and George Washington University Human Rights Program in 2003 and 2004. From 2005-2008 Nmehielle served as the Principal Defender of the United Nations-Backed Special Court for Sierra Leone in Freetown, Sierra Leone. He returned to Wits in June 2008. He holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from the Rivers State University of Science & Technology, Port Harcourt, Nigeria; a Master of Laws degree in International Law from the University of Notre Dame, in the USA; and a Doctor of Juridical Science Degree in International & Comparative Law from the George Washington University in Washington, DC. Nmehielle’s professional, academic and research interest is in the theme area of Law, Governance, Justice and Development in Africa.


Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books June 2015

review by Kawu Balaa Senior District Judge with the Bauchi State Judiciary, Nigeria.

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  1. “This is a vital, important contribution to the literature on international criminal justice in Africa. Although the subject is often reduced to simplistic assessments in some public discourse, this collection of essays demonstrates the complexity both of the landscape and of the responses to impunity on the continent. In some sense, Africa is the primordial laboratory for international criminal justice. To understand it, this book is essential reading.”


William Schabas

Professor of international law, Middlesex University

Professor of international criminal law and human rights, Leiden University

Emeritus Professor of human rights, National University of Ireland Galway


  1. “In Africa and the Future of International Criminal Justice, Professor Nmehielle, a leading voice on Africa and international criminal justice, has edited one of the most insightful contributions to the contentious subject of Africa and international criminal justice.  The book leaves nothing to imagination, and lays bare the heated debates of Africa’s current entanglement with international criminal tribunals.  It is a work that will become a reference point for people thinking and working on the subject.”


Makau Mutua


SUNY Distinguished Professor

Floyd H. & Hilda L. Hurst Faculty Scholar

SUNY Buffalo Law School

State University of New York


  1. 3.      “Recent discussions on international criminal law and justice in Africa have tended to focus on narrow contentious aspects of the relationship between Africa and the International Criminal Court. The essays presented in this volume offer a timely reminder of the wider range of issues implicated in this debate and the broader compass through which this subject must be examined. While these contributions specifically interrogate issues central to a proper understanding of international criminal justice in Africa today, the relevance of these discussions goes beyond the African continent. In this book Professor Nmehielle has assembled a fine collection of thoughtful and critical contributions which should be of interest to scholars, practitioners and policy-makers in Africa and elsewhere, and to those with more than a passing interest in international criminal justice.”


Tiyanjana Maluwa

H. Laddie Montague Chair in Law

Penn State Dickinson School of Law

Director, School of International Affairs

Pennsylvania State University


  1. “In recent years, the indictment of African leaders by the International Criminal Court (ICC) has ignited considerable debates in Africa and beyond, raising profound questions about the place of new international norms on state behavior.  Is the ICC a new tool of imperialists to humiliate and subjugate Africa or is it a mechanism that seeks to punish and deter egregious human rights violations that prevail across the continent?  Are the new instruments of international legality too blunt or judicious in addressing the magnitude of the problem?  Africa and International Criminal Justice seeks comprehensive answers to these questions through wide-ranging analytical and policy prisms. Vincent Nmehielle has assembled competent scholars and practitioners to lend insights into one of the most contentious issues in contemporary international law and politics. The fifteen chapters are a wealth of knowledge on the causes of ICC intervention, African and global perspectives on international criminal justice, and ways of ending the protracted stalemate about the ICC’s role in Africa. This book makes a significant contribution to debates that are merely in their formative stages.”  


Gilbert Khadiagala

The Jan Smuts Professor and Head of Department of International Relations

University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg


  1. "The future disposition of the international criminal law order will ironically be determined by how Africa embraces its dual role as a subject and object of international criminal justice. Professor Nmehielle's excellent collection of essays examine this tenuous dichotomy and locates the imperial and counter-imperial dimensions of international criminal justice without surrendering the vital accommodative elasticity required of African states, regional organizations and civil society to combat impunity and fortify the rule of law and democracy. This cutting-edge book is essential reading for students, scholars and policy-makers interested in the internationalization of justice."


Jeremy I. Levitt, JD, Ph.D.

Associate Dean for International Programs

Distinguished Professor of International Law and Director,

Center for International Law and Justice, Florida A&M University College of Law

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Interview with Eleven author Vincent O. Nmehielle

Vincent O. Nmehielle about Business Ethics and CSR