The following is a guest post by Theresa Lou, research associate in the International Institutions and Global Governance program.
After Burundian lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) on October 12, South Africa and Gambia quickly followed suit and declared their own decisions to leave the court. This isn’t the first time that member nations have threatened to withdraw from the court, but none has ever followed through. This time, however, the ICC’s future seems less certain. Other ICC members, such as Kenya and Uganda, may seek to “capitalize on the momentum,” as Indiana University Professor David Bosco told the New York Times, prompting concerns that the ICC will soon face an African exodus.
In an article just published by Foreign Affairs, I argue that despite the ICC’s flaws—such as limited political will and uneven membership—it remains crucial to combating impunity, especially among high-level officials that have committed unspeakable crimes. To abandon the ICC would be to betray victims of atrocities everywhere.