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Press Release: ISS Special Report - The Au Summit and Malawi
13 June 2012


Institute for Security Studies
Tel: +27 (0) 12 346 9500/2

ISS Special Report: The AU Summit and Malawi - Legal and political implications

The decision by Malawi`s new president Joyce Banda not to invite President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan to the African Union (AU) summit, initially set to be held in Lilongwe in July, has stirred up controversy across Africa. Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. The AU insists that al-Bashir should be allowed to attend and has since moved the summit to Addis Ababa.

Ottilia Maunganidze of the ISS Transnational Threats and International Crime Division says Malawi`s decision not to host the AU summit is in line with its international obligations as signatory of the Rome Statute of the ICC.

She states that this is not the first time African signatories of the Rome Statute had to grapple with the al-Bashir issue. “Other states have found diplomatic solutions to either avoid al-Bashir`s visits or move the venue of important meetings to the territory of non-states parties.”

“It is clear that African states are divided on the al-Bashir issue. This is despite AU decisions in 2009, 2010, 2011 and January 2012 in which the AU called on all its member states not to cooperate with the ICC with respect to al-Bashir`s arrest warrants,” she writes.

“Malawi should be applauded for its principled and legally correct position on al-Bashir.”

Gwinyayi Dzinesa of the ISS Conflict Prevention and Risk Analysis Division says Malawi`s decision was motivated by both principle and national interest.

It has been lauded by those supporting the fight against impunity in Africa. “Malawi`s human rights groups have predictably backed the government`s bold and principled decision to stand with the victims of the Darfur conflict,” he writes.

President Banda`s predecessor Bingu wa Mutharika earlier hosted al-Bashir in Malawi, infuriating foreign aid donors. It is in Malawi`s interest to get the aid back, says Dzinesa.

“President Banda has embarked on a major drive to smooth ties with the international community, which had soured under her predecessor Mutharika and has taken a number of bold steps to steer the country into donor-friendly waters. “

To read the full special report, including a special report podcast discussion with the authors, click here (

ISS Expert Contacts:

Ottilia Maunganidze,
Transnational Threats and International Crime Division
Cell: +27 82 588 9755

Gwinyayi Dzinesa,
Conflict Prevention and Risk Analysis Division
Cell: +27 82 076 8816

About the Institute:

The Institute for Security of Studies (ISS) is a pan-African organization that undertakes applied policy research, provides teaching and training as well as technical assistance.  The Institute is head quartered in Pretoria, South Africa with offices in Cape Town, South Africa, Nairobi, Kenya, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Dakar, Senegal. The ISS works for the advancement of sustainable human security in Africa. It seeks to mainstream human security perspectives into public policy processes and to influence decision makers within Africa and beyond. The objective of the Institute is to add critical balance and objectivity by providing timely, empirical research, teaching and implementation support on sustainable human security issues to policy makers, area specialists, advocacy groups, and the media. 

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