Lunch seminar with Tonny Kirabira

The International Criminal Court and Ongwen: Role of NGOs in International Criminal Justice

On 4 February 2021, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued its judgment in the case against Dominic Ongwen, convicting him of the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Northern Uganda. In this presentation, I examine the role of the role of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in the investigation and prosecution of this case. The analysis rests primarily on an extensive study and review of secondary sources regarding the Transitional Justice (TJ) process in Uganda. As a secondary source, the presentation relies on qualitative interviews with a range of NGO representatives, victim representatives, prosecutors, judges, academics and defence lawyers. It also benefits from reflections based on my experience as a legal practitioner in Uganda. Drawing on the theory of legitimacy, it illustrates how NGO narratives and work shaped the local people’s understanding of the international criminal trial. In turn, this asserted a form of sociological legitimacy of the court in the eyes of the affected communities.  The Ongwen case shows that NGOs have the potential to legitimise the work of the ICC in complex legal and social situations, thus serving as key stakeholders in the future of the international criminal justice project.

Speaker bio

Tonny is a PhD law researcher at the University of Portsmouth (United Kingdom), focusing on transitional justice and international criminal prosecution. He previously worked as a Visiting Professional in the Office of Public Counsel for Victims at the International Criminal Court. He holds an LLM in International Human Rights Law from University of Notre Dame (United States), and a bachelor of Laws degree from Uganda Christian University (Uganda). He was admitted to the Ugandan Bar in 2014 and practices as a Barrister and Solicitor in the High Court of Uganda and all courts of judicature. He is involved in international human rights work, including participation in UN Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva. He is also a Research Affiliate with the Refugee Law Initiative at University of London. He has also collaborated with Leiden Law School’s Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies as an expert on the Tracing Inherent Powers Project. He has taught undergraduate law courses at the University of Greenwich, University of Portsmouth and Royal Holloway, University of London.

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Meeting ID: 670 2015 9225
Passcode: 822875