Nicole De Silva wins the 2016 British International Studies Association African Affairs Paper Prize

Congratulations to Nicole De Silva, who has been awarded the British International Studies Association (BISA) African Affairs Paper Prize, which is given to the best paper on Africa—based on its originality, rigour, and significance—that has been presented at several conferences in International Studies.

In her paper, “Africa versus the International Criminal Court: The Strategy of Regionalizing International Criminal Justice,” Nicole examines how African states’ opposition to the International Criminal Court (ICC) has escalated over time, culminating in proposals for creating regional criminal courts in the African Union (AU) and East African Community (EAC).

The paper explains how and why African states have adopted this strategy of regionalizing international criminal justice, elucidating the institutional dynamics of Africa-ICC relations and, more generally, how African states’ dissatisfaction with a multilateral institution can promote regional-institution building. It adapts the theory of “institutional choice” to show how, after strategies for working within or changing a multilateral institution prove unviable, coalitions of dissatisfied states can turn to regional institution-building as a last resort for countering a contested multilateral institution. Thus, the paper shows how African states, after initially pursuing strategies of using and changing the ICC, eventually shifted their focus to pursuing proposals for regional criminal courts in the AU and EAC, as alternatives to the ICC. The paper’s comparative analysis of the AU and EAC initiatives—where states successfully adopted the AU proposal, but abandoned the EAC proposal—provides insights regarding not only the politics of Africa-ICC relations, but also the opportunities and constraints of regional institution-building in Africa.

Nicole’s research broadly focuses on the role of international organizations and international law in regional and global governance. You can find out more about her research by visiting her website: