More than 11 years after the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for Dominic Ongwen’s arrest, and nearly two years after he was captured and transferred to The Hague, his prosecution finally began in December.
Ongwen’s will not be the only trial unfolding over the coming months. The years since the unsealing of the warrant against him have been rocky for the ICC, which has been accused of reinforcing global power dynamics and targeting geopolitically weak states, particularly in Africa. These were among the reasons three African countries—Burundi, South Africa and Gambia—cited in late 2016 when they announced they would begin the process of withdrawing from the statute that created the court. More are threatening to follow.
During this particularly fraught moment in the ICC’s history, Ongwen’s trial promises to keep many of these issues at the fore. And it could be used either to reinforce the court’s necessity or further undermine its legitimacy, especially on the African continent. Read more.