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UN chief pleads with S.Africa to reconsider ICC withdrawal

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International Criminal Court permanent headquarters in The Hague. Photo: ICC-CPI

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has regretted the decision of the South African Government to withdraw from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and expressed hope that the country will reconsider its decision before the withdrawal takes effect.

In a statement issued by his office on Monday, the UN chief also recalled the “significant role” played by South Africa in the establishment of the ICC, including as one of the first signatories of the Rome Statute.

According to ICC, the withdrawal will only come into effect one year after notification to the Secretary-General, who is the depositary.

He further expressed his belief that the ICC is central to global efforts to end impunity and prevent conflict as well as his confidence that the UN Member States will continue to further strengthen the Court, thus helping deter future atrocities across the globe.

Further, the statement noted: “[Mr. Ban] also hopes that States that may have concerns regarding the functioning of the Court seek to resolve these matters in the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute.”

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court is the international treaty that founded the Court. Comprising a Preamble and 13 Parts, it establishes the governing framework for the Court.

The Statute sets out the Court’s jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and – as of an amendment in 2010 – the crime of aggression. In addition to jurisdiction, it also addresses issues such as admissibility and applicable law, the composition and administration of the Court, investigations and prosecution, trials, penalties, appeal and revision, international cooperation and judicial assistance, and enforcement.

The Rome Statute was adopted at the Rome Conference on 17 July 1998 and entered into force on 1 July 2002.

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