SA to withdraw from International Criminal Court

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South Africas withdrawal is due to take effect a year after the United Nations Secretary General receives notification from government.

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JOHANNESBURG - South Africa has announced its intention to withdraw from the Rome Statute.

In effect, this means the country will no longer be bound to the International Criminal Court.

In a notice to the United Nations on Thursday, government says it’s obligations with respect to the peaceful resolution of conflicts, are incompatible with the interpretations given by the ICC.

South Africa’s withdrawal will take effect a year after the United Nations Secretary General receives notification from government.

According to the Daily Maverick's Simon Allison, South Africa cited the court's perceived biases against African nations as a reason for the withdrawal. (Listen to his analysis below.)

The notice also highlighted the dilemma it faced when Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, wanted for war crimes by the ICC, attended an African Union summit in Johannesburg last year. South Africa said at the time that diplomatic immunity for heads of state over-ruled its legal oblilgation to arrest Bashir under the ICC.

Al-Bashir: South Africa's moment of glory and shame

However, there does appear to be conflicting views as to whether there needs to be parliamentary approval to withdraw from international treaties and according to the Daily Maverick, civil society groups are planning to challenge South Africa's withdrawal from the Rome Statute. 

Earlier this month, Burundi was the first nation to quit the ICC.

The notice delivered by South Africa to the United Nations, labelled “Instrument of Withdrawal”, was signed by International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane on Wednesday.

A key quote states, “And whereas the Republic of South Africa has found that is obligations with respect to the peaceful resolution of conflicts at times are incompatible with the interpretation given by the International Criminal Court of obligations contained in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”