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FROM THE LIBERATION STRUGGLE TO “PURE AVARICE”: INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL LAW AND THE FRAMING OF CRIME IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

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: The view advanced in this article is that over the past few decades, the efforts of Sub-Saharan Africa elites to promote human rights discourse and establish liberal institutions of the nation-state have constrained the space for justifiable law-breaking and enlarged the category of criminality. Taken together, national and international security are now pursued more through the idiom of crime and rule of law than through the political process. As a result, there is more crime than there used to be in sub-Saharan Africa. It means that law-breaking and collective political opposition is more often construed as criminal behavior. Not only have the classifications changed, but so have the ways of knowing about violence in Africa, and all the while, a legal prism for apprehending transgressions has gained greater prominence. This paper illustrates this general argument by reference to South Africa during its transition from apartheid in the 1990s and to the international criminal tribunals presently prosecuting violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone. The argument works best for those post-conflict countries affected by liberal political and legal reforms and the interventions of international criminal law, and that now includes many sub-Saharan countries, but not all. It does not apply to relatively peaceful and prosperous countries such as Tanzania or Botswana. It does not work for Zimbabwe, but may once a post-Mugabe transition is underway. Keywords: Human rights. Crime. Rule of law

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