In 2010, Africa experienced two setbacks regarding ensuring justice for victims of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity: the African Union’s (AU) July summit decision that renewed a call for its members not to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in arresting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, for whom the court had issued two arrest warrants; and the first visits by President al-Bashir, without arrest, to the territory of ICC states parties (Chad and Kenya) since he became subject to an ICC warrant.2 These developments pose unprecedented challenges to ensuring that accountability for international crimes is not undermined in Africa, although the circumstances that surround them suggest their importance should not be overstated.
This article analyses the 2010 setbacks and offers reflections on the road ahead. It discusses key concerns with the July 2010 AU decision on the ICC and visits by President al-Bashir to the territory of ICC states parties, and assesses the significance of these setbacks given the broader landscape in which they occurred. It continues with a discussion of three areas that may merit consideration in managing setbacks for the ICC in Africa. The conclusion includes some discussion of relevant developments in 2011.