Lecture summary: In March 2013, Kenyans went to the polls to vote for president. Given the violence which followed disputed elections in late 2007, resulting in charges of crimes against humanity being brought at the International Criminal Court against two contenders for top office, the international community watched closely. The elections were relatively peaceful, and disputes over the election results this time resulted in litigation that reached the Supreme Court, rather than significant violence in the streets. Yet the two accused, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, became president and deputy president, respectively. Court proceedings to date have faced a variety of challenges, including increasing resistance by a state party, and circumstances which highlight the need for clarity regarding the interpretation of the concepts of gravity and complementarity. Further, resistance by the Kenyan state has heightened questions regarding the function of positive complementarity and the capacity of the ICC in the absence of genuine state cooperation.
My comments are based on field research in Kenya and at the International Criminal Court in 2010 and 2012, with support from the Nuffield Foundation, UK, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, in collaboration with Stephen Brown of the University of Ottawa, and subsequent research in 2014 with support from the British Academy, in collaboration with Thomas Obel-Hansen of the US International University in Nairobi and as part of a MacArthur-funded project, in collaboration with Iavor Rangelov of LSE and Phil Clark of SOAS.
The research to date is reflected in two articles:
Chandra Lekha Sriram and Stephen Brown, “Kenya in the Shadow of the ICC: Complementarity, Gravity and Impact,” International Criminal Law Review vol. 12 (2012), and
Stephen Brown and Chandra Lekha Sriram, “’The big fish won’t fry themselves’: Criminal accountability for post-election violence in Kenya,” African Affairs vol. 111, issue 443 (2012).
Chandra Lekha Sriram is Professor of International Law and International Relations, and Co-Director of the Centre of Human Rights in Conflict, at the University of East London, where she is founder and co-director of the Centre on Human Rights in Conflict at the University of East London. She is currently the principal investigator on an ESRC-funded research project on The Impact of Transitional Justice Mechanisms on Democratic Institution-Building, in partnership with Dr. Anja Mihr of the Hague Institute for Global Justice, who is the principal investigator on the Dutch counterpart of the grant, funded by NWO. She is also the principal investigator on a grant from the British Academy, in collaboration with Thomas Obel Hansen of the US International University in Nairobi, on the role of civil society in promoting accountability for serious crimes in Kenya. From 2010-2012, she was the principal investigator on a grant funded by the US Institute of Peace on victim-centred approaches to justice and reintegration of excombatants; from 2008-2011 she was a workpackage leader as part of a European Union Framework VII project on building a just and durable peace in the Middle East and Western Balkans , and from 2007-2009 she was the principal investigator of a large British Academy Grant on rule of law and peacebuilding in Africa. She is author and editor of various books and journal articles on international relations, international law, human rights and conflict prevention and peacebuilding. She is the author of three monographs: Peace as governance: power-sharing, armed groups, and contemporary peace negotiations (Palgrave 2008); Globalizing justice for mass atrocities: A revolution in accountability (Routledge 2005); and Confronting past human rights violations: Justice versus peace in times of transition (Frank Cass 2004). Professor Sriram received her PhD in Politics from Princeton University in 2000, her JD from the University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law in 1994, and her MA in International Relations and BA in Political Science from the University of Chicago in 1991.
Speaker: Chandra Lekha Siriam, Professor of International Law and International Relations, University of East London