South Africa walks back Ramaphosa remarks on leaving ICC
South Africa will not revoke its participation in the International Criminal Court (ICC), despite comments made by the African National Congress and President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier in the week.
That’s according to a statement from the presidency, assuring that South Africa will remain a signatory to the Rome Statute that governs its participation. South Africa “will continue to campaign for equal and consistent application of international law,” the presidency said.
A December 2022 resolution to continue South Africa’s ICC commitments, rescinding a previous decision to withdraw, was reaffirmed during an ANC National Executive Committee meeting last weekend but other discussions led to the confusion.
“The NEC had also reflected on the potential withdrawal from the ICC as an option that would arise as a measure of last resort in the absence of legal options that would result in fairness and consistency in the administration of international law,” the president’s statement said. South Africa’s statement also reaffirmed its commitment to a pan-African court to complement the work of the ICC.
Participation in the court has long been a point of contention in African nations, often rooted in the belief that Africa is held to a different standard than the rest of the world and ICC cases and judgments disproportionately (and unfairly) target African political and military leaders.
While most participating nations remain signatories to the Rome Statute, with the ICC established in 2002, others have left the agreement. Burundi was the first African nation to do so in 2016, with South Africa threatening to follow suit.