The Imagery of Universal Justice

In The Atlantic, Adam Hochschild has a great piece on the story of Thomas Lubanga, a former DRC warlord who is the first ICC defendant to face a proper trial. When the ICC outreach team visited Bunia, the town in eastern DRC that has been ravaged by war, they realized that the scales of universal justice are quite similar to another set of scales more commonly seen in a town known for its gold deposits.

Nicolas Kuyaku, the cheerful, energetic Congolese who runs the ICC’s “outreach” office in Bunia, begins today’s session by showing 20 minutes of videos sent from The Hague. We see a brightly lit courtroom full of some two dozen people: solemn judges and lawyers in black robes and white jabots, an impassive Lubanga in a suit and tie in the dock, witnesses who testify about his use of child soldiers, plus a prosecutor, a defense attorney, and—an ICC feature loosely modeled after some European justice systems—a lawyer making statements on behalf of a group of victims. Something that must mystify the audience is the court’s logo, almost always in the upper right-hand corner of the TV screen: the scales of justice. To anyone in Ituri, they look like the small, handheld scales found in thousands of shops here that weigh little flecks of gold laboriously gathered from riverbanks by miners—a job some of those here today say they’ve done.


Mobile Web East Africa

Mobile Web East Africa is a very cool conference taking place in Nairobi of Feb. 3-4. The event focuses on "harnessing the potential of the internet and applications on mobile devices," and could not come at a better time. The faster connectivity associated with the launch of the SEACOM cable is reaching Kampala and Nairobi, and the price point of new and smaller mobile devices is falling.

The conference has several key themes. To me, the most interesting questions relate to how consumers will experience the mobile web in East Africa, and what this will mean for social and economic innovation. For example:

What handsets, standards, networks and designs will allow consumers to successfully access the content and consume it?
How will the consumer be able to discover that content – through a portal, application, browser, search engine, advert, social network?
There are some fantastic speakers lined up, including Eric Cantor of Grameen Foundation, Vincent Maher of Vodacom South Africa, Agosto Liko of Pesapal, Jon Gosier of Appfrica Labs and Erik Hersman of Ushahidi.

The organizers are still looking for more attendees from the Tanzanian and Rwandan tech industries, so if you know folks who are interested, please send along this link. More information registration and attendance is here.

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