By Theresa Whitely, Political Science
Advisor: Ivan Ivanov
Abstract: The International Criminal Court's founding principles focus on the intention to end impunity for leading elites who commit crimes on an international scale. This unprecedented court prosecutes high-ranking government officials on the basis of four crimes: crimes of aggression, war crimes, crimes of genocide, and crimes against humanity. Of the 60 nations which ratified the Rome Statute, 34 were African states (over 50% of the member states). The high percentage of participating African states has put much of the focus on the African continent for the Court's proceedings, which is a large reason African countries are examined throughout this study. In recent years, the Court has met backlash on its core purpose, meeting opposition from various members from the global south. African nations have fought against removing impunity norms for elites, which can be seen through the case studies of South Africa, The Gambia, and Burundi. Elite theory has consistently demonstrated itself to be the major theme present in all three cases, whether it be South Africa's attempt to uphold diplomatic immunity for President al-Bashir of the Sudan or the successful withdraw by Burundi to shield it's leaders from prosecution for human rights violations. It is these actions which expose the true motivations behind African nations' opposition to the International Criminal Court and demonstrate the key role of elite theory in ICC withdrawal rates.