By Justice Hub
In September 2013, the possibility of a state withdrawing from the International Criminal Court was possibly closer than it had ever been. A Kenyan parliamentary vote supported the government’s motion to withdraw from the ICC.
Almost two years on, Kenya is still a State Party to the Rome Statute, and the cases against two Kenyan nationals are still underway. But since this initial call for withdrawal, several countries have announced their intention to pull out of the Court. The process of leaving the Rome Statute is fairly uncomplicated, but it doesn’t absolve any state from its legal or financial obligations to the Court.
The latest state to hint at dropping its ICC membership is South Africa, following it’s highly controversial failure to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during a recent African Union summit in Johannesburg. On the eve of al-Bashir’s arrival in South Africa, the ICC issued several calls for his arrest to the South African government. It’s in light of this that Jeff Radebe, minister in the presidency, announced that South Africa is reconsidering its participation in the ICC.
South Africa and Kenya are joined by Uganda in the line of countries wielding the threat of ICC pullout. In mid-December, 2014 Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni announced his intention to mobilise African leaders to quit the ICC. However, to this date no state has taken the plunge and left the ICC in its wake.
For more information about the troubled relationship between the ICC and the African continent, read Mark Kersten's latest Courtside Justice column.
So what does the Rome Statute say?
Leaving the Rome Statute can be found in Article 127, which says:
1. “A State Party may, by written notification addressed to the Secretary General of the United Nations, withdraw from this Statute. The withdrawal shall take effect one year after the date of receipt of the notification, unless the notification specifies a later date.
2. "A State shall not be discharged, by reason of its withdrawal, from the obligations arising from this Statute while it was a Party to the Statute, including any financial obligations which may have accrued. Its withdrawal shall not affect any cooperation with the Court in connection with criminal investigations and proceedings in relation to which the withdrawing State had a duty to cooperate and which were commenced prior to the date on which the withdrawal became effective, nor shall it prejudice in any way the continued consideration of any matter which was already under consideration by the Court prior to the date on which the withdrawal became effective.”