The ICC is the first permanent international court to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity and back in 2002 when it came to life, South Africa was a founding member. But late in the evening on October 20th news broke that South Africa is moving to withdraw from the International Criminal Court. Could the withdrawal of Africa’s most powerful country be the beginning of the end of the court?
In recent years the court has come under criticism by some African governments for holding a perceived bias against Africa, but until now no major country has withdrawn from the court after joining it. There is a fear that South Africa’s withdrawal will spark an cascade of countries doing the same thing. If South Africa’s withdrawal leads to a mass exodus, the ICC’s jurisdiction around the world could be significantly shrunk. Maybe even fatally.
On the line with me to discuss these questions and more is David Bosco, associate professor of international studies at Indiana University’s School of Global and International Studies. He is also author of the bookRough Justice: The International Criminal Court in a World of Power Politics and someone I have looked to over the years to help me understand the ICC’s role in international relations.