African countries are considering a co-ordinated withdrawal from the International Criminal Court if it is not reformed to address what they see as its bias against the continent, according to a document seen by Reuters.
Almost a third of the ICC’s 124 members are African, and a withdrawal by a large number of them would cripple a court that has yet to fulfil hopes that it would ensure perpetrators of war crimes and genocide never go unpunished.
Three African countries last year signalled their intention to quit what is the world’s first permanent global war crimes court, saying it unfairly singles out crimes in Africa for prosecution.
Fifteen years old this year, the ICC has only ever charged Africans, including the presidents of Kenya and Sudan, although it has procedures open at earlier stages dealing with crimes in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and South America.
The document, circulated in draft form among senior African Union officialsahead of the organisation’s summit next week, sets out a “withdrawal strategy” for member states to follow if reform demands are not met.
It calls for “fair and transparent” international justice that is free of “double standards”, and advocates the “regionalisation” of international law, a reference to proposals for an African war crimes court.