Nelson Mandela Foundation

Fatou Bensouda 2021 official

The importance of justice and the rule of law for social cohesion will be examined when former International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda delivers the 19th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture on 25 August 2021.

Ms Bensouda, who was the first woman and first African to serve as Prosecutor of the ICC (2012 to 2021), will deliver her address from The Hague, speaking on the theme, The Rule of Law, International Criminal Justice and its Contribution to Sustainable Development.

The theme for her address builds directly on that of United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres, who called for a “new global deal” when he delivered the 18th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture on 18 July 2020. Guterres’ new global deal is based on fairness in globalisation, the protection of the rights and dignity of every human being, on humanity living in balance with nature, on taking into account the rights of future generations and on success measured in human rather than in economic terms. 

Ms Bensouda joins a panoply of global leaders – from Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, former Irish President Mary Robinson and philanthropist Mo Ibrahim to former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan – who have delivered the Lecture. Since its inception 19 years ago, millions of people from across the world have enjoyed the Lecture, which is aimed at addressing pressing social challenges. The largest physical gathering for the Lecture was in 2018, when nearly 15 000 people came to hear former United States President Barack Obama deliver the 16th Annual Lecture.

Ms Bensouda will examine the potential and impact of the rule of law and international criminal justice on society, and in the creation of the kind of society of which the world can be proud. Her address comes in the context of the global Covid-19 pandemic, which has further deepened existing patterns of poverty and inequality. This deepening has put strain on social cohesion across the world, with growing evidence of diminishing respect for the rule of law emerging across the world, and placing the UN’s Agenda 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in jeopardy.

The SDGs are a set of 17 interlinked goals designed to be a "blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all". The SDGs were set up in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly and are intended to be achieved by the year 2030.