President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa declared on Tuesday that the country would withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC). His office, however, withdrew his comments a few hours later. The African National Congress (ANC), South Africa’s ruling party, has earlier agreed to reverse the party’s 2016 departure from the ICC.
South Africa is a signatory to the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding text, and would be required to respect any arrest warrants issued by the court. Putin is wanted for questioning and is scheduled to attend the BRICS meeting in South Africa in August.
Ramaphosa’s announcement came after the ANC opted to begin withdrawing from the ICC. The decision was made after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin last month for his role in the Russian abduction of Ukrainian children. The South African government had long complained about the ICC’s double standards.
Even if South Africa resigned from the ICC, it would be obligated to fulfill its membership duties, including the execution of arrest orders, for the next 12 months. The decision could harm South Africa’s relations with Western countries, which are already concerned about the country’s developing partnership with Russia.