The High Court in Pretoria ruled on February 22nd that South Africa’s decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) was unconstitutional, not in itself, but because of the manner in which it was carried out. Heated debate around South Africa’s intended withdrawal continues.

South Africa’s decision to withdraw from the ICC, a body set up to investigate instances of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, has raised questions about the meaning of this withdrawal for the continent, and the country’s citizens.

The ICC has been criticized for a lack of balance in adjudicating crimes of genocide, war and so forth, targeting countries in the global south while failing to interrogate the militarism and violence of states in the global north.

Taking these criticisms into account, we attempt to develop a deeper understanding of the workings of the ICC, South Africa’s decision to withdraw, and the implications of this both nationally and internationally, in a two-day event at the Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education on 10th and 11th March, 2017. Through debate and discussion, we will grapple with the issue of South Africa’s wish to withdraw, as well as deeper underlying questions of universality and human rights which emerged, for example, from early slave revolts in the Caribbean and North America. In addition to these debates, the workshop will probe the following questions:

  • Is the idea of human rights the sole creation of the Western world, or is the history of human rights more diverse and more complicated than is often assumed? That is, are human rights universal or a product of eurocentrism?
  • Is the ICC a neo-colonialist, imperialist intervention in the affairs of African states?
  • Can national or continental institutions serve as a means of recourse for citizens living under dictatorships, political instability and protracted instability?

Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education,
1 Batten Lane,
Mowbray, Cape Town
(next to Forest Hill and opposite the Viljoenhof CPUT residences)

Kindly RSVP by Tuesday 7 March 2017 to:

Wadi Dyani
021 685 3516/8

Phephelaphi Dube, director of the Centre for Constitutional Rights presents on the history that led to the institution of the ICC, how the court works as well as a case study of the first successful prosecution by the ICC, that of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, a case she worked on during her tenure at the court.

Allan Ngari from the Institute of Security Studies and political commentator, Oscar van Heerden debate the merits and demerits of South Africa's withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC).