26 April 2014 - While the International Criminal Court continues to pursue cases against several African leaders, a remarkable attempt to step into the breach by an indigenous African institution goes largely unnoticed, says Adama Dieng, the UN Special Adviser on Prevention of Genocide. In a new Op-ed article to be published in newspapers worldwide, Mr. Dieng writes that recent atrocities in the Central African Republic and South Sudan have raised calls for interventions by the international community, just like before that other violent eruptions in Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Libya and Mali.

Mr. Dieng points out that while the African Union (AU) has been criticised for not doing enough to address impunity, its initiative to create a Commission of Inquiry to investigate human rights violations and other abuses committed during the armed conflict in South Sudan, has been overlooked.
“Against a backdrop of criticism by some African leaders of the International Criminal Court’s focus on African cases and repeat calls for the African Union to take the lead in prosecutions, this is a ground-breaking development and a policy watershed.”

The Commission´s mandate is to investigate human rights violations and abuses by all parties to the conflict, identify those most responsible so that they can be held to account. The Commission will also make recommendations on ways to foster reconciliation and healing among all South Sudanese communities.

Mr. Dieng writes that efforts like these are not on the global radar screen but are critical to the equally important objectives of seeking justice and accountability on the one hand, and peace and stability on the other.

Promising the support of the United Nations, Mr. Dieng said that those committing atrocities will be closely monitoring the work of the commission.

“This is the moment to take the bull by the horns and show that the African Union is serious about ending impunity on the continent, particularly for atrocity crimes…The Commission of Inquiry has to do well and do it right; the whole world will be watching.”