South Africa begins formal withdrawal from ICC

South Africa has formally begun the process of withdrawing from the International Criminal Court.

According to the Daily Maverick, South African diplomats have delivered a formal notice of withdrawal from the Rome Statute to the United Nations.

It was signed by international relations minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane on 19 October 2016

In the notice, South Africa outlines the court’s perceived biases against African states, and highlights 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.

At the time, the government argued diplomatic conventions around immunity for heads of state trumped its legal obligation to arrest Bashir.

That argument has been challenged by civil society organisations, and is due to be heard in Constitutional Court in November.

South Africa’s withdrawal follows a similar announcement from Burundi, which became the first nation to quit the ICC earlier this month.