South Africa has formally revoked its decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC), after its High Court blocked the government’s bid to pull out of the Hague-based war crimes tribunal, saying the move was unconstitutional.
In February, a South African High Court held that the decision by the President Jacob Zuma’s cabinet to withdraw from the international court was premature and procedurally irrational, adding that the government could not make the decision without the approval of Parliament.
As a result of this, South Africa notified U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that because of the High Court decision, “the Instrument of Withdrawal was found to be unconstitutional and invalid,” according to a document posted on the U.N. treaties website.
Zuma has long criticized the international court as biased against African states and, in its most recent public statements; it has maintained its aim to leave the organization.
It was however unclear if the statement on Tuesday meant that South Africa had permanently abandoned intentions of leaving the international court, or if it was seeking another way to do so.
The ICC, which was launched in July 2002 and has 124 member states, is the first legal body with permanent international jurisdiction to prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Three African states – South Africa, Gambia and Burundi – last year signaled their intention to quit the ICC. Gambia’s President Adama Barrow, elected in December, said earlier this month that the tiny West African nation would remain in the ICC.