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Published On: Sun, Oct 23rd, 2016

South Africa Dumps the International Criminal Court

Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) : The Republic of South Africa decided to withdraw from the Rome Statute which established the foundation for the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC has been widely criticized for what some experts described as “the hunt for Africans”, for biased prosecution, the politicization of justice and for being an obstacle to conflict resolution.

ICC_AlRay_fileSouth Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, on October 19, signed the Instrument of Withdrawal from the Rome Statute and the ICC. The instrument was signed after a Cabinet decision.

Maite Nkoana-Mashabane writes, among others, that South Africa is committed to fighting impunity and to bringing those who committed international crimes to justice.

The document also notes that South Africa, as a founding member of the African Union, is committed to human rights and conflict resolution in African countries.

The South African government also stresses that peace and justice in complex and multi-faceted peace negotiations and sensitive post-conflict situations must be viewed as complementary and not as mutually exclusive.

Moreover, it stressed that South Africa’s role in the resolution of conflicts at times is incompatible with interpretations of the Rome Statute given by the ICC which have been an impediment for conflict resolution. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane wrote that this situation requires of the Republic of South Africa to withdraw from the Rome Statute of the ICC. (vied full document below)

Click on the image to enlarge.

Click on the image to enlarge.

South Africa’s Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Michael Masutha, gave additional explanations during a press conference held on October 21. He noted that the Supreme Court of Appeal had held in the Omar al-Bashir case that the Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Act, was in conflict with the Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act.

South Africa’s decision could suggest that more work will be done to implement Africa’s alternative to the ICC, the 2014 Malabo protocol that yet has to be ratified.

The “African Court of Justice and Human Rights” envisioned in the Malabo Protocol could begin to function with criminal jurisdiction after it has been ratified by 15 African countries and when details about the financing of the court have been agreed upon.

Critics of the protocol stress that article 46 b provides heads of state and senior state officials with immunity, which of course is a problem when top-government officials are politically responsible for some of the most serious crimes. One example would be

That said, the International Criminal Court has been criticized for its bias against Africans.

Professor Alexander Mezyaev described this bias in his 2013 article entitled “The International Justice System and the Hunt for Africans”. Alexander Mezyaev is the Head of the Chair of the Academy on International Law and Governance in Kazan, Tatarstan, Russia.

During the 2015 TMALI Alumni Forum, former South African President Thabo Mbeki described in detail how the ICC has become an impediment to conflict resolution in South Africa. (see video below).

The possible collapse of the Rome Statute and the ICC and countries, especially African and non-NATO countries withdrawal from the system has been “in the air” for years. In 2009 Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Hans Köchler, a Life Fellow at the International Academy for Philosophy, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, and President of the International Progress Organization, held a detailed lecture on the Rome Statute and the ICC entitled “Global Justice or Global Revenge – The ICC and the Politicization of International Criminal Justice.

The lecture has been delivered at the World Conference for International Justice held under the motto “United against the politicization of justice” organized by the General Sudanese Students Union in Khartoum, Sudan, 6 April 2009. (published here).

CH/L – nsnbc 23.10.2016

About the Author

- Dr. Christof Lehmann is the founder and editor of nsnbc. He is a psychologist and former independent political consultant on conflict, conflict resolution and a wide range of other political issues. In March 2013 he established nsnbc as a daily, independent, international on-line newspaper. He can be contacted at nsnbc international at

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