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How the International Criminal Court contributes to shaping global youth identity examined at UJ

Among some African commentators – official, professional, and self-appointed – there is often what amounts to a form of suspicion about the role of the International Criminal Court (ICC). A one-day symposium convened by the University of Johannesburg (UJ) on Wednesday, 5 October, engaged South Africa’s Youth on International Justice under the theme: “Why International Justice matters.”

This engagement was attended by participants from more than 30 countries and brought together Civil Society Organizations and the Legal Fraternity. Students from various parts of Africa including Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Burundi, Malawi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Tanzania, Zambia, Libya, and South Africa attended to engage with the ICC Prosecutor as well as with representatives on both the panels.

Speaking at the conference was International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor, Ms Fatou Bensouda, who spoke about the importance of the ICC for future generations. She also highlighted the many challenges facing the ICC and provided an informative depiction of the functions of the ICC

The event was hosted by the University of Johannesburg in collaboration with Africa Legal Aid (AFLA).

The symposium briefly addressed topical and undertreated areas including: Accountability for Sexual and Gender-based Violence; Criminalizing the Illegal Use of Force; Complementarity; Protection of Victims and Witnesses; Safety and Security of Acquitted and Released Persons; and Reengaging Africa in the ICC.

Leading presenters and moderators at the conference included Prof Raimi Gbadamosi, Head of Department of Visual Arts, University of Pretoria; Prof Hennie Strydom, NRF Research Chair in International Law at UJ; Mr Kwanele Phakathi, Doctoral LLD candidate, specialising in Public International Law, University of Johannesburg; and UJ’s Dr Eric Blanco Niyitunga, Senior Lecturer/Researcher, School of Leadership, Soweto Campus.

Global experts on International Criminal Justice in attendance included Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and Evelyn Ankumah, Executive Director, Africa Legal Aid. The opening session was chaired by UJ’s Prof Chris Landsberg, SARChi Chair on African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy.

Evelyn Ankumah, Executive Director of Africa Legal Aid (AFLA) had this to say: “There is a need to engage the youth – Africa’s future leaders – in international justice. And there is a need to re-engage Africa in International Criminal Justice.”

UJ’s Director, Study Abroad: Division for Internationalisation, Mr Lebethe Malefo explains:

“We are truly honoured to have a high level delegation of visitors coming to the University as part of our growing collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Africa Legal Aid and the International Criminal Court (ICC).”

“We are confident the networking and discussions that have taken place will lead to both immediate and lasting solutions on behalf of victims of human rights violations.” Mr Malefo concluded by saying: “I sincerely wish that this symposium will be a great success not only as a chance to share knowledge and experience in higher education but also as the beginning of a long and fruitful cooperation and friendship among fellow dignitaries devoted to the most meaningful and worthwhile task of teaching and training our youth, who will shape our future.”

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