Gambian lawyer Fatou Bensouda has been officially elected as the next chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and will become the first African to hold the top post at a time when the ICC is almost exclusively focused on the continent.
"We have to take care that they do not endorse, with support to [Fatou Bensouda], an ICC for Africa and that's all."
- Florence Hartmann, a former spokesperson for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
Bensouda, who has served as deputy to Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the outgoing ICC chief prosecutor, was the only candidate and unanimously chosen by the ICC's assembly of state parties at their annual meeting in New York on Monday. She had previously worked as a legal adviser at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Tanzania.
The African Union (AU) has endorsed her appointment to succeed Ocampo, whose nine-year term expires in June 2012. Bensouda has said that she is working for the victims of Africa, but some of the continent's leaders have accused the ICC of providing selective justice by only investigating atrocities committed there.
So, how will the election of an African citizen impact the future of the ICC's work?
Inside Story, with presenter Divya Gopalan, discusses with guests: Joseph Powderly from the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies; Florence Hartmann, a former spokesperson for and Balkan adviser to Carla Del Ponte, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague; and David Anderson, a professor of African Politics at the University of Oxford.
|"The African Union is itself quite a divided house and, although as an organisation it has given support to an African being elected, that doesn't mean to say that all African states will now get their weight behind the court. I think that's much more problematical."
David Anderson, a professor of African Politics at the University of Oxford