Switzerland regrets South Africa's and Burundi's decisions to withdraw from the International Criminal Court

Press release, 21.10.2016

The Governments of South Africa and Burundi have recently announced their withdrawal from the International Criminal Court. Switzerland regrets these decisions and calls on both States to reconsider them.

The International Criminal Court is a permanent institution based in The Hague in the Netherlands. The Court was established by the Rome Statute, which has been ratified by around two thirds of all UN Member States including Switzerland. Switzerland has always advocated strongly in favour of the Court and the universal ratification of the Statute.

The Court first and foremost serves the victims of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole. Those victims bear the consequences of withdrawals.

The Court is an independent institution mandated to put an end to impunity. It embodies the principle that justice must be done and seen to be done in order to achieve sustainable peace, assure accountability, and contribute to the prevention of future violations. Against the backdrop of the multiplication of serious violations of international law and of the most basic principles of humanity in current armed conflicts, the decisions send a troubling signal.

Switzerland underscores that the Court functions impartially. If many of its investigations concern situations in Africa, it is because Governments on the continent have repeatedly requested the Court themselves to investigate. In addition, the Court only acts as a last resort when crimes are not investigated and prosecuted by national authorities.

Switzerland regrets that the Governments of South Africa and Burundi have recently announced their withdrawal from the Rome Statute. A withdrawal takes effect only one year after the notification to the Secretary-General of the United Nations acting as depositary of the Statute. The Court can pursue matters already under consideration, and the concerned States remain bound to cooperate in that respect.

Further information:

International Criminal Justice (FDFA)
Website of the International Criminal Court (en/fr)

Address for enquiries:

Information FDFA
Bundeshaus West
CH-3003 Bern
Tel.: +41 58 462 31 53
Fax: +41 58 464 90 47
E-Mail: info@eda.admin.ch


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs