African Union backs mass withdrawal from International Criminal Court (ICC)
Voice of America
ADDIS ABABA — The African Union is moving forward on what it calls a “withdrawal strategy” from the International Criminal Court, a move that could alter peace, security and justice on the continent.
Dozens of heads of state — some of whom have been accused of war crimes or are wanted by the International Criminal Court — quietly approved the strategy on Tuesday, the last day of the AU summit in Addis Ababa.
African leaders have often accused the ICC of unfairly targeting them, pointing to the fact that of the 39 individuals indicted so far by the Hague-based court, all 39 are African.
There was no grand announcement of the decision as leaders rushed through an early closing ceremony and leaders congratulated each other while a choir belted out the AU anthem, which includes the line: “Let us dedicate ourselves to fight together/ for lasting peace and justice on earth.”
VOA News obtained verification of the decision from two sources who are well-connected within the AU, and who identically described the motion.
In short, they said, the decision is not legally binding, but rather a political statement of support by the AU that if any of the court’s 34 African members chooses to withdraw from the court, the AU will support the move.
In the last year, three African nations have expressed intent to begin the lengthy and complicated withdrawal process — Burundi, Gambia and South Africa.
Researcher Ndubuisi Christian Ani of the Addis Ababa-based Institute for Security Studies said it could inspire other states to start looking to leave the ICC.
Video: African leaders back plan for mass ICC withdrawal