In 2012, just before Fatou Bensouda began her tenure as the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor, she addressed a large forum of African activists and academics in Cape Town. As she spoke to a room packed with highly educated skeptics — many of whom claimed that the I.C.C. appeared to have “an imperialist agenda” toward Africa, you could have heard a pin drop.
She confronted the critics head-on, arguing that accusing the I.C.C. of having an Africa bias was offensive. She pointed out that those making such accusations tended to be powerful, influential and deeply invested in making the world “forget about the millions of anonymous people that suffer from their crimes.”
And she insisted on naming names: “Our focus is on individual criminal behavior against innocent victims. My focus is on Joseph Kony, Bosco Ntaganda, Ahmed Harun, Omar al-Bashir,” she declared. “The Office of the Prosecutor will go where the victims need us.”
When she was finished, Ms. Bensouda received a standing ovation.