Senegal’s Law Students Debate the International Criminal Court

ICC Judge

Fatou Bensouda, an International Criminal Court prosecutor

In 1998 the Rome Statute, a treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC), was ratified by many countries throughout the world. The first country to ratify this treaty was in fact Senegal, giving “the court the power to prosecute individuals for international crimes such as genocide.” Today however we see that the world, particularly the African continent, is directing a lot of criticism towards the ICC. The critics are claiming that the ICC only pursues cases against African leaders. There are many who believe that the ICC is merely a mechanism to target African leaders and contribute to fostering a negative view towards the continent of Africa.

Against this background, around 60 Senegalese law students have teamed up with various activists to discuss the faults of the ICC. Surprisingly, the result of the discussions has been that the criticism is unfounded. While all of the cases since the ICC was established have been targeted towards African leaders, this is because most of the genocides and war crimes were in fact committed in the African countries. This should not call people to criticize the ICC, instead it should make people strive to achieve democracy and stable institutions to ensure that there is never a need for African leaders to go to court in Netherlands. The students also concluded that if there is a disdain towards the ICC’s activities in regards to Africa, there should be a larger population of Africans who become more involved in the court as lawyers and judges so that they can change the focus of the court. Keeping all of this in mind, it is still prevalent in many African’s mindset to question the credibility of the ICC on account of the lack of support from the United States and Israel. However, this debate and discussion can contribute to further improving the position of the International Criminal Court and subsequently, providing justice.


Senegal’s Focus on Pain Relief for Suffering Patients


In Senegal, while there has been substantial improvement in the healthcare industry, there are several issues that remain unaddressed. A key issue, that is easily solvable, is the lack of palliative care available for patients. The supply of morphine in Senegal is truly insufficient, leaving patients in chronic pain and depression. According to Human Rights Watch, Senegal currently stocks only enough morphine for around 200 patients each year. The reasoning behind the lack of palliative care can be attributed to the misconceptions of morphine and other pain relief medicines. Based on their culture and learning, it seems that many professional doctors are taught that morphine is a dangerous drug and should only be used as the last resort. Other times, a lot of patients are unwilling to take morphine because they associate the drug with dying.

There is a clear path to solving this problem and ensuring that patients can reduce their suffering. The first and foremost strategy is to produce more morphine for the hospitals. Considering the cheap cost of production, this is not a major investment of resources. It is a low cost, highly effective drug that can be beneficial to a lot of patients. Secondly, the government could change the regulations for prescribing morphine. Under this change, rural patients will have easier and longer term access to the drug when it is needed. In addition, there should be a specific training program for healthcare workers in palliative care. This will help solve the problems of misconception and increase the productive capacity of the nurses and doctors. Finally, the healthcare industry must focus on and improve patient relations by incorporating the demands and the needs of the patient into their diagnosis.

To end on a positive note, it is clear that Senegal is doing as much as it can to target this problem. Senegal spends around 12% of its budget on health, considerably higher than most of its neighbors. However, the priority of international donors on HIV/AIDS and child malnutrition has led to a clear lack of resources for other priority issues like pain relief treatment. If the importance of this issue is emphasized, it is evident that a lot of patients will receive accurate and relieving treatment.


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Obama Begins Three-Nation Africa Tour in Senegal

On June 26th 2013, US President Barack Obama landed in Senegal to begin his three-nation trip to Africa, which will also include Tanzania and South Africa. He is scheduled to meet with Senegalese President Macky Sall on Thursday June 27th and then civil leaders at Goree Island, which was once the center of the Atlantic slave trade.

According to White House spokesman Jay Carney “Presidential trips to regions of the world like Africa bring enormous benefits in terms of our relationship with the countries visited and the countries in the region…The trip itself will not be the end point of our engagement, but will enhance it, deepen it and further it.” Barack Obama also plans on meeting with young people including  a town hall meeting in Soweto, which shows his commitment in investing in the future of African youth.

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Food Security Innovations in Senegal, But Not Without Difficulty

Peanut%20farmerSenegal’s population in the northern Sahelian region has been plagued by drought and the threat of starvation for years. Millions were at risk of starvation this past year as a devastating drought hit the region. However, people in Darkar, Sengal’s capital and largest city, have been developing horticulture to better sustain themselves against drought through the innovative use of space.

The story below shows that over 3,200 people work at 113 different production sites producing agriculture for their own sustenance and trade. The problem, however, is that most of such is being done on government land, which is up for grabs by the housing development sector, making it difficult for farmers to use the land they have used for years. The government’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Infrastructure has been working to help promote horticultural practices. The fate of food security in one of Africa’s principle democracies is being determined by the hand of innovation.

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Sec. of State Hillary Clinton Makes a Stop in Dakar

The Secretary of State made a stop in Dakar, Senegal on her way across the continent stopping at various developing African countries to talk about US investment in the continent.  This is a change from past years when a trip to Africa was usually for humanitarian purposes.

Recently, the United States has been making moves toward stronger investments in developing African countries.  The NY Times states that 7 out of 10 world’s fastest growing economies are in Africa.  The main competitor in investment has been China.  This Friday, the African Presidential Center will host Ambassador Zhong Jianhua, who is the Special Representative on African Affairs for the People’s Republic of China and will talk about Chinese investment in Africa.

Senegal: Hard Loss to Mexico in the Olympic Soccer Quarter-Finals


Senegal, having gotten all the way to the quarter-finals this past week, lost to Mexico, who is now geared to face Brazil in the finals.  However, Senegal was able to make two goals against Mexico, who up to that point had not been scored on.  The second half of the game was very intense with teams making goals back and forth, but Mexico was able to take advantage of a few defensive errors, which gave them a 2-shot lead before the end of the game.

Senegal is competing in a few of the different events in the Olympics this year, but their soccer team was by for the most successful.  As Senegal’s infrastructural continues to grow and greater economic stability is brought to its region, hopefully its chances in the Olympic games continue to improve as well.