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Seeking the best forum to prosecute gender-based violence in armed conflict situations in Africa.

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Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) has been a common feature of war, in armed conflict situations. This is particularly so on the African continent where sexual and gender-based crimes (SGBCs) are prevalent. Previously thought of as an unavoidable feature of war, it is now realised that SGBV is used as a weapon of war by perpetrators of these crimes. For years, SGBCs were marginalised and overlooked as they were not prosecuted as crimes in their own right. It was through the work of many feminists’ striving to have these crimes recognised and prosecuted in their own right, that these crimes were included as crimes in their own right in statues such as the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Rome Statute. Though SGBCs were included as crimes in their own right in the Rome Statute, this did not necessarily mean that these crimes were tried and when tried, there is no assurance that they would be successful prosecuted. As a result, it is necessary that SGBCs committed during armed conflicts are prosecuted at the international, regional and domestic levels so that the impunity gap for these crimes is closed. This thesis therefore considers the prosecution of SGBV committed during armed conflicts in Africa at the International Criminal Court (ICC), regional (proposed African Court of Justice and Human and Peoples’ Rights) and domestic level (using the Democratic Republic of Congo as the case study). This is with a view to assessing whether these three forms of justice will bridge the impunity gap in bringing prosecutors to account and/or complement each other. The end result of this is to deter the occurrence of the above mentioned crime in Africa.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.