Outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called President Jacob Zuma at the weekend to express regret at South Africa’s decision to withdraw from the international Criminal Court (ICC).
Ban expressed his hope South Africa would reconsider the decision before the withdrawal comes into effect.
In a read-out issued by his office the Secretary-General recalled the key role the South African government played in negotiations leading to the adoption of the Rome Statute “and as one of its first signatories”.
He also noted his appreciation for the continued and unwavering commitment of the South African government to justice and accountability and expressed hope it would reconsider its decision before the withdrawal takes effect in twelve months’ time.
Further in the conversation, he acknowledged South Africa’s leading role in addressing pressing global issues, particularly those related to peace and security in Africa as well as the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The Secretary-General also expressed his preoccupation with the situation in South Sudan and urged South Africa’s support in calling for an end to hostilities and a return to an inclusive political process, the readout added.
Last week Ban said he “regretted the intention” of three African countries – Burundi, Gambia and South Africa – to withdraw from the ICC.
“Deterring future atrocities, delivering justice for victims and defending the rules of war across the globe are far too important priorities to risk a retreat from the age of accountability we have worked so hard to build and solidify,” Ban told a UN Security Council meeting.
“The world has made enormous strides in building a global system of international criminal justice, with the International Criminal Court as its centrepiece.”
He also noted the concerns raised that the Court has convicted only Africans despite evidence of crimes in other parts of the world and stressed such challenges are best addressed not by diminishing support for the ICC, but by strengthening it from within.