Le droit international en noirs et blancs?
Réflexion sur la confrontation entre le droit international pénal et la culture africaine : cas du Cameroun et de la République démocratique du Congo

  • Armand Nguentha Nyamsi

Student thesis: Doc typesDoctor of Legal Studies


International criminal law, as an autonomous discipline, took time to be achieved. The adoption of the Statute of Rome establishing the International Criminal Court is unanimously considered as a major milestone in this recognition. Indeed, States reasserted their commitment in punishing serious crimes which were mainly unpunished so far. This matter becomes universal as it protects fundamental values of the international community.
However, generally in Africa, and more particularly in the States under study here, in particular Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the implementation of international criminal law is blocked by cultural, legal and political factors.
In fact, the Democratic Republic of the Congo ratified the treaty creating the ICC, and the State of Cameroon signed it. These States thus have to amend their national law accordingly, to bring it in line with their international engagements. It must be kept in mind that the ICC is “complementary” to national criminal jurisdictions, thus clearly affirming its subsidiarity: ICC hears only those cases which are not considered by the internal jurisdictions for the crimes within its competence.
However, it is clear that States like the DRC, which has had and continues to have many armed conflicts accompanied by massive human rights violations, as well as the commission of other serious crimes, does not ensure any real repression of international crimes as defined by the Statute of Rome internally. For the State of Cameroon, it has never truly integrated the international infractions in its own legal statutes. These legal failures lead us to confront the international model for the repression of crimes and its implicit anthropological presuppositions with longstanding repressive models still part of the tradition of central Africa, in particular in the DRC and in Cameroon.
About this, the retributive model, according to Western models, should not be considered as a quick fix for combating serious crimes. The adopted model should adopt concepts coming from traditional African resources. This would provide real opportunities which are sometimes misunderstood and underused.
Date of Award7 Nov 2016
Original languageFrench
Awarding Institution
  • University of Namur
SupervisorJacques Fierens (Supervisor), Nathalie Basecqz (Co-Supervisor), Marc NIHOUL (President), Charles Ntampaka (Jury), Patrick Wautelet (Jury) & Ornella Rovetta (Jury)


  • International Criminal Court
  • international crimes
  • national jurisdictions
  • punitive justice
  • traditional modes of dispute settlement
  • restorative justice
  • truth and reconciliation commission
  • international criminal law
  • high council of African sages

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