AU calls for mass withdrawal of ICC

February 1 2017– THE  African Union (AU) has called for a mass withdrawal of member states from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Senegal and Nigeria have opposed the non-binding resolution which calls for the withdrawal.

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

However, the ICC has denied that it unfairly targets Africans stating that it’s merely pursuing justice for all those Africans who have been targets of war crimes on the continent.

The decision to withdraw by the AU followed heated debates at the AU summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia which concluded on Tuesday.

Omar Al Bashir, the Sudanese President, who is wanted by the court on charges of genocide in Darfur, attended the summit and is known to be a strong opponent of the ICC.

President Jacob Zuma and his government refused to arrest Bashir when he attended an AU meeting in Johannesburg in 2015 leading to criticism from a South African court.

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”.

In 2016 Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni called the ICC “useless” despite appealing to the court for help in prosecuting rebel fighters.

In early October last year Burundi’s parliament voted to leave the court, submitting its withdrawal to the UN.

Later that month Gambia followed suit, calling the court an “International Caucasian Court for the persecution and humiliation of people of colour, especially Africans.”

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

In addition to accusing the ICC of being partial the AU also wants to hold talks with the UN Security Council (UNSC) to push for reforms.

Critics argue that the UNSC – especially the permanent members of France, the United States, France, China and Russia – is representative of an earlier period and unreflective of the world as it stands today.

The UNSC was formed shortly after World War Two ended in 1945 and represented the major powers at that time.

However, since then many more countries have joined the UN and they argue that they should have a bigger say in international affairs, beyond just being temporary members of the UNSC. – ANA