PhD award: Implementing the Complementarity Regime of the ICC Rome Statute in Africa

‘National Implementation of the Complementarity Regime of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC): Obligations and Challenges for Domestic Legislation with Nigeria as a Case Study’ – Ovo Imoedemhe
PhD award: Implementing the Complementarity Regime of the ICC Rome Statute in Africa

Ovo Imoedemhe

Ovo’s thesis is an analysis of how the complementarity regime of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) can be implemented by African states.

Complementarity outlines the primacy of national courts to investigate and prosecute individuals who are suspected to have committed the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The ICC can only intervene when a particular state is shown to be ‘unwilling’ or ‘genuinely unable to act’, assuming the crime is of ‘sufficient gravity’. Complementarity was adopted as the mechanism to allocate cases first to national courts and then to the ICC. However, it remains a principle without a comprehensive legal framework of how states can take the responsibility of prosecuting these serious crimes. Ovo proposed that a ‘mutually inclusive’ interpretation and application of complementarity would be beneficial both to states and the ICC. She suggests that rather than wait until these crimes are committed, states, upon ratification of the Rome Statute, could pursue a ‘proactive model’ of complementarity by requesting assistance and cooperation from the ICC to ensure that their legal frameworks and institutions are sufficiently developed to acquire domestic prosecution. Thus, a ‘minimum complementarity threshold’ entails that African states should undertake some rudimentary reforms in their criminal justice systems, including making sure that there are judges, prosecutors and investigators who are trained in international criminal law. This will increase capacities for domestic prosecutions, reduce referrals to the ICC and ensure accountability.

Since completing her PhD, Ovo has analysed further decisions of the ICC, specifically the decisions of the Pre-Trial and Appeals Chambers regarding the admissibility of the cases against Saif Al-Islam Gaddaffi and Abdullah Senussi of Libya. She is currently applying for a research associateship or a lectureship in the UK.

Ovo was supervised by Dr Troy Lavers and Dr Eki Omorogbe.

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