Withdrawal of countries from international court sends "wrong message"

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the Security Council on cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations in maintaining international peace and security. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

The announcement by three African countries of their intent to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) sends a "wrong message" according to the UN Secretary-General.

Ban Ki-moon, speaking in the Security Council chamber on Friday, said that pulling out of the court undermined the commitment to justice on the part of South Africa, Gambia, and Burundi.

Matthew Wells has more.

The UN chief said that the world had made "enormous strides" in the international justice system, with the ICC as its centrepiece, which had secured "ground-breaking convictions."

He acknowledged that not all countries accepted its jurisdiction, and that, so far, only Africans had been convicted, despite evidence of crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity elsewhere.

But withdrawal by the three countries would be a mistake he said.

"I regret these steps, which could send a wrong message on these countries commitment to justice. These challenges are best addressed not by diminishing support for the court, but by strengthening it from within."

Mr Ban added that deterring genocide and defending the rules of war, were to important to "risk a retreat from the age of accountability" that leaving the court, would signify.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 51″

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