“Transitional Justice and the ICC: Lessons from Rwanda”

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This article explores the transitional justice mechanisms that were employed in Rwanda’s post genocide era and extracts lessons that could be amenable to the International Criminal Court (“ICC”). A key question for the ICC to consider is how best to shape efforts internationally and domestically in order to ensure accountability for mass atrocities. Rwanda is one of the few African countries to have had its cases of international crimes prosecuted nationally as well as internationally. The solutions which arose in its milieu were the establishment of International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (“ICTR”) by the UN Security Council (“UNSC”) whilst localised endeavours came in the form of, inter alia, the gacaca court system. The salient lessons for the ICC are the following: (1) both international and grassroots transitional justice strategies can foster a sense of local ownership, though in different ways – with the international mechanisms focusing on the broad collective level by prosecuting those most responsible for orchestrating the Rwandan genocide, while the localised courts focused on the individual level; (2) there is a need for a customised approach to accountability; (3) whilst there are benefits in prosecution, this approach has some limitations; and (4) there is no “one-size-fits-all” transitional justice system that can be used in any post-conflict situation. Yet, as a legal experiment that had no precedent, the legal pluralist system defined by a combination of the ICTR and the gacaca courts represents a possible model for delivering transitional justice that could be utilised and contextualised by the ICC in future post-conflict environments.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe International Criminal Court and Africa: One decade on
EditorsEvelyn A. Ankumah
ISBN (Print)978-1780684178
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sept 2016


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