SACBC Justice and Peace Commission Asks The Government To Reconsider Its Decision To Withdraw From ICC

 Bishop Abel Gabuza

Bishop A. Gabuza


We have noted with sadness the decision by the South African government to withdraw from the ICC.

We reject the Government’s argument that its obligations under the Rome Statute bring it into direct conflict with obligations to observe international diplomatic norms and standards, that include immunity.

We appeal to the government to reconsider its decision and remain within ICC until such a time that Africa has developed an effective regional court with the capacity and will to demand accountability of all state officials and leaders, particularly the serving heads of governments.

Over and above the legal considerations, we find the decision of the government to be unfortunate on ethical grounds. We are deeply concerned that South African’s withdrawal from ICC will influence and encourage other African countries to leave the court en masse.   The large scale African withdrawal from ICC will be disastrous for the thousands of the vulnerable people in Africa who will in the future remain without adequate protection and remedies in the face of human rights violations perpetrated by a serving head of state.


In registering our concern, we wish therefore to make the following appeals:

  • Instead of withdrawing from the ICC, we appeal to the South African government and other members of African Union to use their regional bloc advantage to ensure that their repeated calls for reforms are urgently and effectively addressed. Such reforms should, among other things, include the shift in prosecutorial policy of the ICC and the withdrawal of UNSC’s referral and deferral powers so that they are conferred either to the Assembly of States Parties or the UN General Assembly.


  • We appeal to the South African government to use its influence and continental leadership to ensure that sufficient number of member states ratify the Malabo Court Protocol so that it soon enters into force for the establishment of the African Court of Justice and Human and Peoples’ Rights. South African government should also ensure that such a regional court has jurisdiction over serving heads of state or senior state officials.
  • We send a strong appeal to the ANC in Parliament to listen to their conscience and do the right thing when the bill relating to ICC withdrawal is debated and voted upon in the parliament. This is a matter that requires voting in terms of one’s conscience, and not only in terms of the partisan mandates.   They should realize that, in this matter, what is at stake is the lives of thousands of our brothers and sisters in Africa who will be left without adequate access to justice and reparation if South African withdrawal from ICC encourages mass exodus of other African states from ICC before an effective regional justice system is in place. Now more than ever, the ANC must show the high moral ground that was its trademark during the apartheid and stand in solidarity with the victims of human-rights violations in Africa.
  • Now more than ever, given the increasing levels of political instability, Africa needs stronger protection of the vulnerable from their political leaders who commit crimes that shock the conscience of humanity, namely genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression.

For more information, kindly contact:

Bishop Abel Gabuza: Tel: 0538311861/0538311862, E-mail:

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