The current United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed his regret over the decision of three African countries to no longer participate in the International Criminal Court (ICC). Ban Ki-moon, who will be stepping down at the end of the year and replaced by António Guterres, stated at a recent Security Council meeting, “The world has made enormous strides in building a global system of international criminal justice, with the International Criminal Court as its centrepiece”. South Africa and Burundi have already announced their official withdrawal, while there is speculation that Gambia will complete the trio of African nations departing the ICC.
The ICC was established by the Statute of Rome in 1998, which establishes its jurisdiction to govern on international criminal acts, including crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes. Mr Ban recently stated that the ICC has been fundamental in, “Deterring future atrocities, delivering justice for victims, and defending the rules of war across the globe [which] are far too important priorities to risk a retreat from the age of accountability that we have worked so hard to build and solidify”. Mr Ban continued, “I regret these steps, which could send a wrong message on these countries’ commitment to justice”. There was some concern from African nations that the ICC only convicted Africans despite there being many other internationally wrongful acts committed elsewhere around the globe.