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This paper contends that despite it functioning as a catalyst, the ICC “Africa problem” did not start with the arrest warrant against al-Bashir. To fully comprehend the current legitimacy crisis we must understand the nature of the negotiation process that led to the adoption of the Rome Statute and its enduring impact. In particular, we must acknowledge the uneven ability of states to formulate and signify their preferences on the basis of their identity and interests during the negotiation process. Drawing from Wiener’s theory of contestation, the paper contends that the absence of meaningful engagement with issues germane to some ICC stakeholders before and during the Rome Conference facilitated the adoption of the Rome Statute, but also plausibly created difficulties for the Court in the long run. Specifically, it postponed unavoidable conflict over contentious issues and undermined the likelihood that specific stakeholders would develop a sense of ownership over the Statute.


Copyright © 2020 Taylor & Francis

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Cambridge Review of International Affairs on 23/4/2020, available online:

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Cambridge Review of International Affairs

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García Iommi, Lucrecia. "Al-Bashir didn’t start the fire. Diversity, low contestedness, and the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court." Cambridge Review of International Affairs (2020): 1-32. DOI: 10.1080/09557571.2020.1751070



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