African Resistance to the International Criminal Court: halting the advance of the anti-impunity norm

Kurt Mills (Lead / Corresponding author), Alan Bloomfield

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The creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 1998 marked a substantial advance in the effort to ensure all perpetrators of mass atrocities can be brought to justice. Yet significant resistance to the anti-impunity norm, and the ICC as the implementing institution, has arisen in Africa. The ICC has primarily operated in Africa, and since it sought to indict the sitting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in 2008 resistance from both individual African states and the African Union has increased substantially. We draw on the concept of ‘norm antipreneurs’, and the broader norm dynamics literature, to analyse how resistance has developed and manifested itself, as well as the potential effects of this resistance on the anti-impunity norm. We conclude that the antipreneur concept helped us structure and organise analysis of the case – suggesting it could be usefully deployed in other similar cases – but that this case also suggests that antipreneurs do not always enjoy substantial defensive advantages. We also conclude that African resistance to the ICC has substantially stalled the advance of the anti-impunity norm, a finding that has significant implications for the wider effort to reduce mass atrocity crimes in the contemporary era.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-127
Number of pages27
JournalReview of International Studies
Issue number1
Early online date23 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


  • African Union
  • Anti-Impunity
  • Global Norm Dynamics
  • International Criminal Court
  • International Criminal Justice
  • Norm Antipreneurs

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