United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon has expressed regret at the decision taken by South Africa, Burundi and Gambia to exit the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The UN Chief noted that the decision could “send a wrong message” about the countries exiting the court’s commitment to justice.
South Africa and Burundi have already served notice to the UN of their intent to withdraw from the Rome Statute which established the Hague-based court.
Gambia which announced its plans to withdraw from the court this week, is yet to officially communicate its intent to the UN.
The 124-member state International Criminal Court, which opened in July 2002, is the first legal body with permanent international jurisdiction to prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
But many African leaders say the ICC unfairly targets them.
Whiles acknowledging the concerns raised by the African countries, Ban Ki-moon told a Security Council meeting on Friday that: “These challenges are best addressed not by diminishing support for the Court, but by strengthening it from within.”
“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 that we have worked so hard to build and solidify,” Ban added.
With many African countries having expressed interest in leaving the ICC, South Africa and Burundi’s withdrawal is likely to encourage other African countries to formalize their plans to exit the court.