Victor’s justice : assessing the impact of one-sided international prosecutions on grave crimes in Côte d’Ivoire
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Among the international responses to the political violence that erupted in Côte d’Ivoire in the wake of the 2010-11 electoral conflict was a swift judicial intervention by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Central to the mission of the ICC is to prevent the future commission of those grave crimes within its jurisdiction and ending the impunity of those that have perpetrated such crimes. The ICC began its prosecution by targeting crimes committed by one side of the conflict – that of ousted Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo – while refraining from prosecuting the crimes committed by those loyal to the victorious President Alassanne Ouattara. The report develops a theory and predicts both positive and negative effects of one-sided prosecutions. After providing historical context, the report tests the theory’s predictions from evidence of the subsequent criminally violent behavior committed by both sides after the ICC transferred Gbagbo to the ICC in October 2011. Amid the difficulties in ascertaining the motives for such behavior, the report concludes that Gbagbo loyalists were not deterred from committing more violent crimes, and that Ouattara loyalists continued to commit violent crimes with impunity. An answer to the question of whether or not Gbagbo loyalists retaliated because of the ICC’s actions remains elusive. However, the report points to potential research that could answer that question and generate new scholarship on the impact of the ICC’s one-sided prosecutions in Côte d’Ivoire.