Africa: ICC - Bensouda's Succession Underway

After several months of crisscrossing, the 123 member States of the court are still searching for a suitable candidate.

A few weeks from now the baton of power is expected to change hands at the helm of the International Criminal Court (ICC). While the outgoing Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is already on her way out having come to the end of her mandate, there is fierce fighting among member States as to who would be her successor.

To facilitate the procedure a committee was set up to select the best candidate among the over 150 files that were deposited. Though after days of brainstorming, the committee succeeded in bringing the list to six candidates, they have not been able to reach a consensus on a final candidate. With the coronavirus not facilitating further dialogue, member countries have agreed to schedule election of the new Prosecutor during the Annual Meeting of Member States to be held from December 17 to 23, 2020.

While waiting for the Annual Meeting, speculations are rife even though the names of the candidates are yet to be made public. The third judge to serve in this capacity will certainly have his or her hands full over the nine-year term of office, which will begin on 15 June 2021.

The official final shortlist is set to be released during the month of June by the expert panel tasked with reviewing applications.

An implicit rule effectively requires that the incoming prosecutor be from a different region of the world than the outgoing one. After the unpredictable term of office of Luis Moreno Ocampo (2003-2012), an Argentine prosecutor with a lot of baggage whose legacy, nearly a decade after his departure, has continued to tarnish the image of the ICC, and following the discreet Fatou Bensouda, who was entrusted with the delicate task of making amends between the Court and the African continent (and these efforts were not exactly successful), it's only logical that a European will take up the post next.

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