Doing Justice to the Political: The International Criminal Court in Uganda and Sudan


International criminal justice has become a weapon in political struggles in Uganda and Sudan. In this light, this article discusses the political meaning of the International Criminal Court's judicial interventions. It argues that the ICC, presented by its advocates as a legal bastion immune from politics, is inherently political by making a distinction between the friends and enemies of the international community which it purports to represent. Using original empirical data, the article demonstrates how in both Uganda and Sudan warring parties have used the ICC's intervention to brand opponents as <it>hostis humani generis,</it> or enemies of mankind, and to present themselves as friends of the ICC, and thus friends of the international community. The ICC Prosecutor has at times encouraged this friend–enemy dichotomy. These observations do not result in a denunciation of the Court as a ‘political institution’. On the contrary: they underline that a sound normative evaluation of the Court's activities can be made only when its political dimensions are acknowledged and understood. To show that justice has its practical and ideological limits is not to slight it. … The entire aim is rather to account for the difficulties which the morality of justice faces in a morally pluralistic world and to help it recognize its real place in it – not above the political world but in its very midst. <it>J. Shklar,</it> Legalism: Law, Morals and Political Trials <it>(1986), at 122–123.</it>

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