African Agency and the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s Judicial Intervention

  • Forschungsfragen

    How is African agency empirically measured?
    What types of agency are revealed by the behaviour of African states in relation to the International Criminal Court?
    What implications are there for (a) (Africa's) International Relations and (b) the International Criminal Court?

    Beitrag zu internationaler Forschung

    The project adds to existing literature on African agency by moving from conceptual debates of "African agency" toward proposing empirical measurements of agency and a typology of agency for analysing African state relations with the International Criminal Court (ICC). This provides a better understanding of the strategies used by African states to advance their national interests and suggests the reasons for why the strategies are selected. The study presents the first database that considers statements delivered by the 34 African states studied delivered at the ICC's Assembly of States Parties General Debate. Additionally, statements delivered at the UN General Assembly's annual ICC report plenary and the UN General Assembly's General Debate are also analysed. Consequently, a more comprehensive understanding of the African-ICC relationship is established as well as an original classification system to facilitate the systematic empirical analysis of a large volume of qualitative data. The project seeks to contribute to the relatively small literature focused on advancing academic understanding of Africa's agency in International Relations.

    Forschungsdesign und Methoden

    The project is a qualitative study of 34 African states that are members of the International Criminal Court. Decision-making in the ICC's Assembly of States Parties are reached through consensus, which means that there are no voting reocrds that can be used to indicate a state's position on an issue under debate. Consequently, the best indicator for state behaviour are country statements. Thus, the empirical evidence underscoring the project is 193 country statements delivered by these 34 states are analysed between 2008 and 2018 - a fraught period in African-ICC relations that can be referred to as the withdrawal debate. Critical discourse analysis is used to control for diplomatic protocols that shape the speeches and to recognise the effects of external and internal factors on the speeches delivered in order to categorise the states into a proposed typology for the types of agency exercised during the withdrawal debate. The types of agency identified are: support, critical support, demonstrative discontent, and withdrawal. One further category is identified - zombie states - as presenting a challenge for interpretation. Do states who abstain from participation do so as an act of agency to maintain strategic neutrality, or is it a result of other factors like indifference and/or a lack of resources to participate in international forums. Explanations for the different types of agency - drawing on prominent International Relations explanations for African state behaviour - for the 34 states are offered. This shows how the positions toward to the ICC - which change over the years - were active policy decisions that should be understood as acts of state agency.

    South Africa and the International Criminal Court


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