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African Union: Amendment to Rome Statute of International Criminal Court Sought

(Feb. 16, 2010) It was reported on February 3, 2010, that the African Union (AU) is seeking to amend the Rome Statute of 1998, which currently reserves the power to suspend investigation or prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to the United Nations Security Council, in favor of extending the same mandate to the U.N. General Assembly in the event that the Security Council fails to make a decision. (African Union Seeks ICC Statute Amendment, DAILY NEWS (Egypt), Feb. 3, 2010, available at

The Rome Statute states:

No investigation or prosecution may be commenced or proceeded with under this Statute for a period of 12 months after the Security Council, in a resolution adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, has requested the Court to that effect; that request may be renewed by the Council under the same conditions. (Art. 16, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, ICC website, (last visited Feb. 5, 2010).)

The AU's move is in the wake of the U.N. Security Council's failure to act on the AU request of October 2009 to temporarily freeze an arrest warrant issued by the ICC against Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir (DAILY NEWS, supra), so that the AU could implement its plan to establish a hybrid court to prosecute perpetrators of the crimes committed in the Darfur region. (See Hanibal Goitom, Hybrid Court to Try Perpetrators of Darfur Crimes, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR, Nov. 6, 2009, available at

Meanwhile, the ICC is considering the possibility of adding a genocide charge to the outstanding charges against al-Bashir. The Appeals Chamber recently ordered the Pre-Trial Chamber to look into the matter, contending that the reason a genocide charge was not initially issued was because the Court had applied an erroneous standard of proof. (Zukiswa Zimela, Bashir May Face Genocide Charges, IPS, Feb. 3, available at The outstanding charges, which were issued in March 2009, include five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes allegedly committed in the Darfur region. (DAILY NEWS, supra.)