Reflections

Why Africa Is Turning Its Back on the International Criminal Court

Oct 27, 2016 | 00:18 GMT
On Wednesday, Gambia became the third country, after Burundi and South Africa, to announce its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court, highlighting the body's inefficacy and its disproportionate tendency to prosecute African leaders.
On Wednesday, Gambia became the third country, after Burundi and South Africa, to announce its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court, highlighting the body's inefficacy and its disproportionate tendency to prosecute African leaders.
(SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images)

Wednesday's news that Gambia will withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) -- along with Burundi and South Africa -- further establishes the practical irrelevance of the court. The countries are the first three signatory members to begin the process to formally leave the institution, which has long struggled to enforce its actions. (The process requires sending official notification to the U.N. secretary-general and a one-year wait period.) That the countries are all pulling out of the ICC at the same time is not surprising and can be attributed to several factors. First, there is the general perception that the institution is an imperialist tool of the West to pursue its interests. Moreover, African leaders are more likely to face prosecution by the court than leaders in other regions. And finally, even those countries unlikely to be targeted are hesitant to support its actions for fear of disrupting regional economic...

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