African Leaders under the aegis of the African Union (AU) have backed a strategic plan to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Their decision is based on their conclusion that the court seems to target only African countries.

According to Reuters (quoting an anonymous AU official), their support for the withdrawal however came with an unspecified reservation.

“The leaders of AU member states endorsed the strategy of collective withdrawal, with reservations,” the AU official, who asked not be identified, told Reuters.

Details of the reservation were not given but the summit of heads of states highlighted that the ICC unfairly targets African nations.

According to a document, the AU summit had proposed a coordinated withdrawal unless the ICC was reformed.

It also called for Part of the reforms it expected to see in the ICC was “regionalization” of international law, a reference to proposals for an African war crimes court.

Almost a third of the ICC’s 124 members are African, and a withdrawal by a large number of them would cripple a court that has yet to fulfil hopes that it would ensure perpetrators of war crimes and genocide never go unpunished.

Three African states – South Africa, Gambia and Burundi – signaled last year their intention to quit what is the world’s first permanent global war crimes court.

The ICC, which is 15 years old this year, has only ever charged Africans, including the presidents of Kenya and Sudan, although it has procedures open at earlier stages dealing with crimes in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and South America.

African Union headquarters, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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