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The ICC's jurisdictional limitations and the impunity for war crimes in the DRC : a plea for the establishment of a special criminal tribunal.

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The cruelty and scope of the widespread criminality of humans in the world, which was a feature of the past century, was fuelled by scientific progress, egoism and humanity's power of destruction. The criminal consequences of the many imperialistic, hegemonic and barbarous wars in that century were immeasurable in terms of violations of human rights. Notwithstanding the emergence of international criminal justice through the experience of the International Criminal Military Tribunal of Nuremberg and Tokyo and later the ad hoc International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, globally, impunity for egregious crimes continues. The establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the end of the 20th century was saluted as a major step forward in the evolution of international criminal justice. While previous tribunals were ad hoc, the ICC is permanent and has large territorial jurisdiction. This raises hope among the many Congolese victims of the first African World War, who view the ICC as a paradigm change that will put a stop to impunity for crimes against humanity and the crimes of genocide and war. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the past decades have been marked by instability and horrible armed conflicts (1996-97 and 1998-2003) which left several million people dead, and which were marked by gross war crimes. The negative consequences of those atrocities persist until today. While the ICC initiated the prosecution of some war criminals in 2004, most crimes committed before 2002 remain unpunished, because the ICC's jurisdiction is limited to after that time. It is therefore imperative to examine other mechanisms to deal with impunity for various grave crimes, including war crimes, perpetrated between 1996 and 2002. Thus the aim of this research is to contribute to the fight against impunity for crimes in the DRC by examining how other modes of jurisdiction such as the principle of universality can be applied, and to assess the need for the establishment of a specific tribunal for the DRC. Considering the inability and incapacity of the Congolese judicial apparatus, this study concludes by recommending the establishment of a Special Criminal Tribunal which can put an end to impunity for serious crimes committed in the DRC.


Thesis (LL.M.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2012.


War crimes--Congo (Democratic Republic), Crimes against humanity--Congo (Democratic Republic), Prosecution--Congo (Democratic Republic), Justice, Administration of--Congo (Democratic Republic), Theses--Law.