• Thursday, Jan 20, 2022
  • Last Update : 03:32 am

Why African states have started leaving the ICC

  • Published at 04:05 pm October 22nd, 2016
Why African states have started leaving the ICC

Until this week, no country had withdrawn from the International Criminal Court. Now two African states, South Africa and Burundi, have made official decisions to leave. Concerns are high that more African countries now will act on years of threats to pull out amid accusations that the court unfairly focuses on the continent, reports The Associated Press. Here's a look at what it all means.

Someone to take on genocide

Many in the international community cheered when the treaty to create the ICC, the Rome Statute, was adopted in 1998 as a way to pursue some of the world's worst atrocities: genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Not all countries signed on, and before this week's decisions by Burundi and South Africa, the treaty had 124 states parties. Notable countries that have not become states parties include the United States, China, Russia and India. Some countries are wary of The Hague, Netherlands-based court's powers, seeing it as potential interference.

The travels of al-Bashir

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has become a symbol of the limitations facing the ICC, which does not have a police force and relies on the cooperation of member states. Al-Bashir has been wanted by the tribunal for alleged genocide and other crimes in Sudan's Darfur region after the UN Security Council first referred the case to the ICC in 2005. Since then, however, al-Bashir has visited a number of ICC member states, including Malawi, Kenya, Chad and Congo. His visit to South Africa in June 2015 caused uproar, and he quickly left as a court there ordered his arrest. The ICC has no power to compel countries to arrest people and can only tell them they have a legal obligation to do it.

African frustrations, and threats

Only Africans have been charged in the six ICC cases that are ongoing or about to begin, though preliminary ICC investigations have been opened elsewhere in the world, in places like Colombia and Afghanistan. One case that caused considerable anger among African leaders was the ICC's pursuit of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta for his alleged role in the deadly violence that erupted after his country's 2007 presidential election. The case later collapsed amid prosecution claims of interference with witnesses and non-cooperation by Kenyan authorities. The African Union has called for immunity from prosecution for heads of state, and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni at his inauguration in May - with al-Bashir in attendance - declared the ICC to be "useless."

Heading out

Burundi kicked off the ICC departures this month when lawmakers overwhelmingly voted to leave the tribunal, just months after the court announced it would investigate recent political violence there. President Pierre Nkurunziza signed the bill on Tuesday. Now South Africa is deciding to leave as well, saying that handing a leader over to the ICC would amount to interference in another country's affairs. It's a dramatic turnaround for a country that was an early supporter of the court's creation in the years after South Africa emerged from white minority rule and near-global isolation. With one of Africa's most developed countries now pulling out, observers are waiting to see whether more states follow.

50
Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail