South Africa has reversed its withdrawal status from the International Criminal Court (ICC). The decision comes after the North Gauteng High Court ruling in February stating that the government’s bid to pull out from the ICC was purely “unconstitutional and invalid”.
South Africa formally started the process of withdrawing from the ICC in October 2016 following the mass campaign of African nations to withdraw from ICC, telling the United Nations (UN) that its views on peaceful conflict resolution were “incompatible” with the UN’s.
Last year, South Africa announced that it would withdraw from The Hague Based tribunal after the government was condemned by the ICC for not arresting Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir during his visit to the country in 2015.
Al-Bashir is wanted by the ICC, accused of war crimes and genocide in Darfur, but has denied the allegations arguing it’s a witch-hunt from Western countries. The ICC issued the warrant of arrest and charges include five counts of crimes against humanity, two counts of war crimes and three counts of genocide. During Al-Bashir’s his visit to South Africa in 2015, the authorities refused to arrest him, breaching the Rome Statute principles.
A notice document written to the UN states that in order to adhere to the country’s High Court judgment,which ruled South Africa’s parliament needed to approve the country’s withdrawal from ICC, the planned pull-out would be revoked with “immediate effect” .
The principles of the Rome Statute
The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (often referred to as the International Criminal Court Statute or the Rome Statute) is the treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC). It was adopted at a diplomatic conference in Rome on 17 July 1998 and it entered into force on 1 July 2002. As of March 2016, 124 states are party to the statute. Among other things, the statute establishes the court’s functions, jurisdiction and structure.
The Rome Statute established four core international crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.
In 2016, about three African states – South Africa, The Gambia and Burundi signaled their intention to quit the ICC. Gambia’s President Adama Barrow, elected in December has since revoked its withdrawal from the court.