Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


In recent years, impunity has become pervasive throughout most African countries. In some African countries, impunity is due to the inability of national governments to bring perpetrators of human rights violations to account for their crimes. In others, impunity arises from the unwillingness of government to utilize the existing legal system to bring criminals, whether they are state- or non-state actors, to justice. Effectively combatting impunity in Africa must begin with the reconstruction of African States to provide democratic institutions, which are capable of adequately constraining the government and preventing civil servants and political elites from acting with impunity; and which make possible the bringing of all perpetrators of human rights violations, whether they are members of the government or not, to account for their crimes. While making certain that all African countries have legal and judicial systems that are capable of bringing to justice all individuals who commit international crimes in their jurisdictions is the first line of the fight against impunity in Africa, it is important to acknowledge the important role that international law can play in the anti-impunity effort. The international criminal justice system, as embodied in the International Criminal Court, is seen as an important and critical tool to fight threats to international peace and security. In addition, international programs, such as the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and the Set of Principles for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights Through Action to Combat Impunity, add to the repertoire of tools available to those engaged in the fight against impunity in the African countries.