Is the African Court currently in force? Which countries are likely to ratify the Malabo Protocol for the African Court so that it can begin to be operational?
In June 2014, the African Union adopted the Protocol on Amendments to the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights (the “Malabo Protocol”). As of June 2018, only 11 countries have signed the protocol, and none have ratified it. The protocol needs 15 ratifications to be in force. If ratified, the Malabo Protocol will establish a first of its kind regional court with jurisdiction over three branches of international law: general international law, human rights law, and international criminal law. It will also be the first time a regional court has been vested with jurisdiction over international crimes, the first time any supra-national court has been vested with jurisdiction over many of the transnational crimes included in the Malabo Protocol, and the first time any supra-national court has been vested with criminal jurisdiction over corporations.
As its name suggests, the Protocol on Amendments to the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights is not a stand-alone treaty. Rather, it amends an earlier protocol, the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights (the “Merger Protocol”), which itself was intended to replace two earlier treaties namely the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Protocol of the Court of Justice of the African Union.
ACRI has identified 17 countries most likely to ratify the Malabo Protocol because they have already signed the Malabo Protocol; have ratified the Merger Protocol or a high number of AU treaties; and/or have expressed support for the African Court, the Malabo Protocol, or international justice in Africa. The list was also created with sub-regional representation in mind. Those countries are:
- The Republic of Kenya
- The Republic of Rwanda
- The Republic of Uganda
- The Republic of Burkina Faso
- The Republic of Ghana
- The Republic of Guinea-Bissau
- Republic of Sierra Leone
- The Republic of Burundi
- The Republic of Chad
- The Republic of the Congo
- The Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe
- Democratic and People’s Republic of Algeria
- The Islamic Republic of Mauritania
- The Republic of Tunisia
- The Republic of Botswana
- Kingdom of Lesotho