South Africa, Burundi, Gambia and now Russia leave the ICC

Category: News| Recommended reading

18 Nov 2016

In recent months, three African leaders have signalled their intention to leave the International Criminal Court as a way to express their dissatisfaction with the international judicial body, following complaints that ICC prosecutions focused excessively on the African continent. Early this week, President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia is formally withdrawing its signature from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court as well. 

Regarding the African countries departures, Dr. Aaron Matta, senior researcher at The Hague Institute for Global Justice  argues that “these countries are making noise” beacuse “the Court is doing its job”.  In his view,  “this wave of departures will certainly hurt the ICC”, but he dose not think that “all African countries will follow suit. Three or four countries leaving will not topple the Court.” Yet, with Russia joining South Africa, Burundi and Gambia in leaving the court this year, the Court may be facing a bigger problem. 


The International Criminal Court is Navigating Troubled Waters

Article by Dr. Aaron Matta, senior researcher at The Hague Institute fos Global Justice. Posted originally on 1 November 2016.  

Several days after South Africa notified the UN of its intentions to leave the International Criminal Court, Burundi has done the same, and the Gambia will soon follow. The three African countries are looking to withdraw from the Rome Statute out of protest against the ICC’s allegedly unfair focus on the African continent. In an interview with TV5 Monde, Dr. Aaron Matta stated this could be the start of more troubles for the ICC, if other countries such as Kenya might follow.

Dr. Matta posed that, in spite of the reasoning provided in public, South Africa, Burundi and the Gambia all have their own specific reasons for retreating from the ICC. South Africa has been criticized for failing to apprehend Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president who is wanted for war crimes, while he was in the country. Burundi authorities might be investigated for serious violations of human rights. “By no longer being part of the ICC they can elude prosecution for genocide,” said Dr. Matta. “A smear campaign has started because these countries feel intimidated by the Court. Criticisms have intensified over the last three years. Persons who are subject to investigation, or those who could be, try to protect themselves.”

For more information on Russia leaving the ICC see Russia withdraws signature from international criminal court statute.


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International Institute of Social Studies

Conflict and Peace Studies is a specialization within the Human Rights, Gender and Conflict Studies MA Major in Development Studies. This blog provides a platform for discussion for researchers, students and others interested in this field of studies. The blog is administered by the Conflict and Peace Studies teaching team.

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