South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma has announced that the country is considering pulling out of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
President Zuma reportedly made the statement at the recently ended African Union (AU) summit held in Ethiopia.
In a debate on the ICC, President Zuma said: “Our strongly held view is that it is now impossible, under the circumstances, for South Africa to continue its participation in the Rome Statute”.
“South Africa is seriously reviewing its participation in the Rome Statute and will announce its decision in due course,” Zuma reportedly told the summit.
The statement comes as no surprise considering South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) has previously indicated its plan to withdraw the country from the ICC. South Africa disregarded a court order to arrest Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir, during his visit to the country last year.
African leaders have in the past criticised the ICC, saying it only targets Africans.
Last year, Namibia’s cabinet approved a recommendation by the ruling Swapo party to withdraw the country from the ICC, although the date for the proposed withdrawal was not set.
Some African countries have had an uneasy relationship with the ICC and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). At the recently concluded AU summit, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe reiterated calls for the reform of the UNSC. President Mugabe berated the UN’s Five Permanent members (P5) and called for Africa to be afforded at least two permanent seats on the UNSC with the power to veto.
Mugabe noted, “If the UN will or must survive, we must have …members with a veto that is respected and honoured….”
While some African countries continue to be critical of the ICC, mulling severing ties with the body, international law experts have noted although the ICC may seem weakened, it still relevant and has a significant role to play in Africa.