International, Social & Community, July 28, 2021, 5:51 p.m.

19th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture Announcement


The 19th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture will be delivered on 25 August 2021 by the outgoing Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, whose term ended on 15 June 2021.

Prosecutor Bensouda served the ICC with distinction for nearly two decades. The ICC was established in 2002. While President of South Africa (1994-1999), Nelson Mandela supported its establishment.


The theme for the 19th Lecture will be The Rule of Law, International Criminal Justice and its Contribution to Sustainable Development.  It builds directly on the 18th Lecture by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, where he called for a New Global Deal, based on a fair globalisation, on the rights and dignity of every human being, on living in balance with nature, on taking into account the rights of future generations and on success measured rather in human rather than economic terms. As he pointed out, in the contexts of COVID-19, the current global order and its underpinning social contract simply are not working for the great majority of the world’s human population. Nor are they working for the Earth and for nonhuman species. How can we do not more but differently? What might a new liberatory social contract look like? How do we build the solidarities that we will need in order to find sustainable solutions to the multiple challenges confronting humanity? How do we redeem respect for the rule of law and grow cultures of accountability in contexts where most human communities are alienated from notions of ‘law and order’?


Former Prosecutor Bensouda will address the potential and impact of the rule of law and international criminal justice, whether applied internationally or domestically, on society and society-building, as it were. She will advance the thesis that increased justice and accountability efforts may assist in the prevention of crimes that cause great human suffering and carnage, and pave the way for systemic change, greater stability, and human security. 


Covid-19 has further deepened existing patterns of poverty and inequality. Those most vulnerable, women and children, are often bearing the brunt. Social cohesion is under severe strain. Evidence of diminishing respect for ‘the rule of law’ is apparent everywhere. The achievement of Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 has become an ever-greater challenge.


A number of questions and lines of enquiry press for attention. In a global frame, but also with a focus on the African continent, how can the rule of law and international criminal justice contribute to addressing the root causes of armed conflict? How can we better understand the connection between accountability efforts and law’s contribution to more orderly and equitable societies as well as development? What is the relevance of the United Nations Agenda 2030 and Sustainable Development goals in this regard? And most acutely, how is all this relevant from the perspective of those who are going hungry in the context or aftermath of conflict or deficits in the application of the rule of law?


You can access Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture collateral, video, audio and image material, here.


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