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School of Law

Dominique Mystris


PhD Student



Thesis title

African Justice Mechanisms and their contribution to international criminal justice and peace and security.


Professor Phoebe Okowa and Dr Saskia Hufnagel

Summary of research

African States have played an important role in the development of international criminal law, be it willingly or not. Studying the mechanisms and cases before international courts and tribunals have led to a greater understanding of international criminal law, and development of international crimes. As a region Africa has the highest number of ad hoc tribunals and special courts globally. Both the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Special Court for Sierra Leone had jurisdiction over African situations and individuals. Additionally, African States make up the largest grouping of states party to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and all but one situation before ICC relates to Africa. Thus, when the African region begin to establish their own African justice mechanisms, they have the potential of adding significant contributions to international criminal justice. These developments need to be be unpacked in order to create a better understanding of these mechanism and how they support international justice in the interest of peace and security on the continent. Furthermore, the ramifications for the international system have yet to be explored and need consideration. The question of whether these justice mechanisms have the potential to either add to current international justice or make the current mechanisms redundant by replacing them must be answered. It cannot be taken for granted that the ICC and UN international justice mechanisms will continue to function unchallenged.

Answering the main research question “why are the African Union (AU) and African States establishing African justice mechanisms?” will entail an exploratory study into why the African Union (AU) and African States are undertaking purely African led and driven justice mechanisms - the focus being the International Criminal Law Section of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights (ICLS), the Extraordinary African Chambers in Senegal’s trial of Hissène Habré (former dictator of Chad), the Special Criminal Court within the Central African Republic (CAR), and the Military Courts in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This approach validates how the mechanisms’ structures have been influenced by the underlying reasons and what the implications are for international criminal law and more specifically justice on the continent.


Dominique completed her LLB with honours from Reading University and an LLM in Public International law from Queen Mary, University of London. She has been lecturing in law since 2011 at various universities in England. She is currently undertaking her PhD studies at Queen Mary, and is funded through the School of Law’s Graduate Teaching Assistantship scholarship.

Over the past seven years she has served both in the United Kingdom and in international research institutions and organizations, including the United Nations University – Institute of Comparative and Regional Integration Studies in Bruges, Belgium. She has done consultancy work for non-profit organizations in Africa, Asia and London on human rights issues and developed policy and advocacy approaches. Her research interests are in the areas of public international law, international criminal law, international humanitarian law, peace and security policy, frameworks for regional organizations; as well as issues pertaining to conflict and post-conflict situations.


  • Abass, A. and Mystris, D. ‘The African Union Legal Framework for Protecting Asylum Seekers’ in Abass, A. & Ippolito, F. (eds.) Regional approaches to the protection of asylum seekers: an international legal perspective (Ashgate: 2014)
  • Yusuf, S and Mystris, D, ‘Reintegration: Evolution or Revolution?’, (March 2012) Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies Policy Paper
  • Yusuf, S and Mystris, D, ‘The Rule of Law Revival in Transition States’, (March 2012) Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies Policy Paper.