Reflections on Peace and Justice in the 21st Century: A Perspective from the International Criminal Court

On 12 October 2017, Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), gave the annual Oxford Global Justice Lecture, organised by the Public International Law Discussion Group and kindly sponsored by the Planethood Foundation. This was the first event hosted by The Bonavero Institute of Human Rights which formally opened its doors this term. A video of this lecture can be found here.

In front of an interested audience in the Sir Joseph Hotung Auditorium, Fatou Bensouda shared her experiences on the interplay of peace and justice in the 21st century, finding that it is not only desirable, but actually possible to reach peace without abandoning justice. The Prosecutor recalled that the creation of the ICC is the result of the experience of centuries of suffering in the face of the world’s most heinous crimes, and found that its establishment must be regarded as one of humanity’s proudest moments.

Fatou Bensouda pointed out that by acceding to the Rome Statute of the ICC the 124 State Parties in effect accepted that justice must play an integral part in conflict-resolution and the creation of sustainable peace. She insisted that law cannot be silent during war and conflict, but must continue to find ways to engage with peace-makers to prevent conflicts and crimes. The Prosecutor was convinced that by confronting atrocity crimes, a sustainable transition from armed conlict to peace can be made, and illustrated her position with the examples of the Central African Republic and Colombia, where peace negotiations were being held while the countries were under examination by her Office. She expressed her view that a world that invests in accountability will reap the benefits, and that the shadow of the ICC has given substance to the notion that impunity for atrocity crimes and blanket amnesties for those most responsible for those crimes are no longer an option.

A reception and dinner were held afterwards at Mansfield College.