African Union backs mass withdrawal from ICC

iccThe African Union has called for the mass withdrawal of member states from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

However, the resolution is non-binding, with Nigeria and Senegal opposing a withdrawal.

South Africa and Burundi have already decided to withdraw, accusing the ICC of undermining their sovereignty and unfairly targeting Africans.

The ICC denies the allegation, insisting it is pursuing justice for victims of war crimes in Africa, which has 34 signatories to the Rome Statute, the treaty that set up the court.

The AU took the decision on Tuesday following a divisive debate at its annual heads of state of summit in Addis Ababa, the BBC’s Emmanuel Igunza reports from Ethiopia’s capital.

Part of the resolution also said the AU would hold talks with the UN Security Council to push for the ICC to be reformed, our correspondent adds.

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the court on charges of genocide in Darfur, was at the summit.

In 2015, a South African court criticised President Jacob Zuma’s government for failing to arrest Mr Bashir when he attended an AU meeting in the main city, Johannesburg.

The government later announced that it was withdrawing from the ICC because it did not want to execute arrest warrants which would lead to “regime change”.

A total of 34 African states are signatories to the Rome Statute, which set up the ICC.

The ICC and global justice:

  • Came into force in 2002
  • The Rome Statute that set it up has been ratified by 123 countries, but the US is a notable absence
  • It aims to prosecute and bring to justice those responsible for the worst crimes – genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes
  • Only Africans prosecuted so far

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