July 31, 2017
Article by Zekarias Beshah Abebe, African Leadership Center Peace and Security Fellow (2016–17).
Republished from Edinburgh University Press.
One of the issues that the current proliferation of international courts and jurisdictions raised in the international legal order is overlapping jurisdiction. On 27 June 2014, the Assembly of the African Union adopted a protocol on the Amendments to the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights which extends the jurisdiction of the court to cover international crimes. The decision of the AU to clothe the African court with a criminal jurisdiction has brought, once again, the issue of overlapping jurisdiction to the surface. This article is an attempt to answer the questions: to what extent does the criminal jurisdiction of the African court overlap with the jurisdiction of the ICC, and is the issue of overlapping jurisdiction a common occurrence or an imminent concern? Taking the crimes under the jurisdiction of the courts and the fact that large numbers of African states are state parties to the ICC into consideration, many tend to argue that overlapping jurisdiction is inevitable and is likely to cause friction for the primacy of jurisdiction. However, this article argues that a close scrutiny of the substantive and territorial jurisdiction of the ICC and the African Court suggests that the issue of overlapping jurisdiction is both rare and of remote concern.