The International Criminal Court (ICC) is struggling at every level of its operations in Africa - in terms of its investigations, prosecutions, and relations with domestic governments, judiciaries and affected communities. This raises key questions about whether, after 16 years of consistent shortcomings and mounting frustration even among some of its most ardent supporters, the Court can survive. A central cause of the ICC's travails is its remoteness from the societies in which it operates. The Court's conceptual and practical 'distance' from the places where crimes are committed greatly undermines its effectiveness and requires a major rethink about how international criminal justice is conducted, especially in the Global South. This presentation lays out the main arguments of my new book, Distant Justice: The Impact of the International Criminal Court on African Politics (Cambridge University Press), and draws on 20 months of fieldwork in central Africa and The Hague since 2006, including 650 interviews with ICC officials, domestic political, legal and civil society actors, and local communities.
Dr Phil Clark is a Reader in Comparative and International Politics at SOAS, University of London. An Australian by nationality but born in Sudan, Dr Clark is a political scientist specialising in conflict and post-conflict issues in Africa, particularly questions of peace, truth, justice and reconciliation. His research addresses the history and politics of the African Great Lakes, focusing on causes of and responses to genocide and other forms of mass violence. His work also explores the theory and practice of transitional justice, with particular emphasis on community-based approaches to accountability and reconciliation and the law and politics of the International Criminal Court. Previously, he was a Research Fellow in Courts and Public Policy at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford, and co-founder and convenor of Oxford Transitional Justice Research. He has a DPhil in Politics from Balliol College, University of Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar.