On 17 July 1998 South Africa signed and ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, thereby becoming the 23rd State Party. To domesticate the obligations in the Rome Statute, South Africa's parliament drafted The Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Act 27 of 2002, which became law on 16 August 2002. The passing of the ICC Act was momentous: prior to the Act, South Africa had no domestic legislation on the subject of war crimes or crimes against humanity, and no domestic prosecutions of international crimes had taken place in this country. The ICC Act is the means by which to remedy that failure, and is in any event the domestic legislation that South Africa (as a State Party to the Rome Statute) was legally obliged to pass in order to comply with its duties under the Statute's complementarity scheme.
This paper reflects on South Africa's membership of the ICC regime, and considers the domestic steps the country has taken in its relationship with the ICC. There is much to commend South Africa's involvement in the ICC scheme, and the ICC Act might be considered an example for other African states as they draft their own implementation legislation.