by Kennedy Graham
Luis Moreno Ocampo, the Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) had arguably the toughest single job in the world. Mrs Fatou Bensouda, Ocampo’s Deputy since 2004, has just won the right to succeed her boss.
Bensouda, a former attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and head of the Prosecutions Division of the Office of the ICC Prosecutor, will be elected on 12 December 2011, at the UN, and assume the post on 16 June 2012. She is the single candidate.
It is no small triumph for the Court and for international law, that she is a woman and an African (Gambian).
This is no small task. Since its inception, the court still has not delivered a conviction. Cases are accumulating in South Sudan, Kenya, DR Congo, CAR, Uganda, and now Libya.
But the movement to end impunity for the four core crimes of the ICC is strengthening. The reach of the Court is growing. The Security Council used its right of referral this year with the situation in Libya, and so the general population begins to better understand the relevance of the court in international security and law.
In her 9-year term, Mrs Bensouda is likely to have a fourth core crime, the crime of aggression, within the Court’s jurisdiction.
It will be a political maturation for the global community for an African woman to lead the world’s criminal investigation of political leaders including, potentially, Western leaders.
The ICC needs to use her historic election to alert the world to the future role of international criminal justice. ‘Never again’ will have come of age. Universal jurisdiction can be a call to put down arms.
The three remaining permanent Council members must be seriously questioned about why they remain at arms-length to the Court. The allocation of resources and funding, so that it can effectively investigate and try suspects, should be reviewed (and the idea of an Office of the Defence, should be considered.)