Relatives of people murdered allegedly on the orders of prominent politicians in Lesotho have gone to court to challenge a new agreement brokered by the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Under this agreement, all parties have been urged to join talks on the way forward for the country, and those now in exile out of fear of being charged with murder and other crimes, have been assured no action would be taken against them if they returned for the talks.
When Lesotho’s squabbling political parties bound themselves to a talk-shop, what – if anything – were the legal implications of that agreement? This question has become crucial in Lesotho, and it is made more complex by the fact that the idea of serious negotiations comes from the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Since SADC’s involvement is hardly a secret, what standing does any agreement related to the negotiations have in international law?