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The ICC’s Arrest Warrant issued against President Vladimir Putin: Disentangling South Africa’s Domestic and International Legal Obligations
Come August 2023, for the second time in a decade, South Africa will likely be facing the difficult question of whether or not to arrest a visiting foreign head of state.
Date: 15 May 2023
Time: 12:00 – 14:00 SAST
Venue: via ZOOM
On 17th March, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin on charges of war crimes in the ongoing war in Ukraine. Both South Africa and Russia are members of BRICS and South Africa is billed to host the 15th BRICS Summit from August 22nd-24th, 2023. South Africa’s Foreign Affairs Minister has confirmed that President Vladimir Putin has been invited to attend the Summit. This echoes the Al Bashir saga of 2015 and the resulting domestic and international legal and political controversies. Back in March 2009, the ICC had issued an arrest warrant for the President Al Bashir of Sudan for alleged war crimes in Darfur. South Africa refused to arrest Al Bashir when he visited South Africa to attend the AU Summit in 2015. Whereas there were several legal uncertainties about the nature and scope of South Africa’s legal obligations under international law at the time, there have been significant domestic and international legal developments since then.
The African Centre for Transnational Criminal Justice (ACTCJ) will bring two leading experts to examines the complex layers legal and political questions in this case. The speakers will shed light on the nature and scope of South Africa’s legal obligations under domestic and international law and possible scenarios if the Russian President attends the BRICS Summit in South Africa.
Professor Hennie Strydom
Professor Hennie Strydom is a Professor of international law and the incumbent of the South African Research Chair in International Law, University of Johannesburg. He obtained the B Iuris, LLB and LLM degrees from the University of the Free State and his LLD from UNISA. His research interests include general international law, international human rights law, international humanitarian law, international criminal law and international environmental law and has published widely in these areas. He is the editor and main author of International Law, a prescribed text book published by Oxford University Press and co-editor and co-author of Environmental Management in South Africa published by Juta&Co. From 2009 to 2020 he was the President of the South African Branch of the International Law Association and he serves on the editorial boards of the South African Yearbook of International Law, the African Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law and the Law Journal of the Faculty of Law, Palacky University, Czech Republic. He is an Alexander von Humboldt scholar and has undertaken various research stays at the Max Planck Institute for Public International Law, Heidelberg, Germany.
Professor Dire Tladi
Professor Dire Tladi is a Professor of international law at the University of Pretoria, and the NRF SARChI Chair of International Constitutional Law. He has over 100 academic publications (articles, books and chapters in books). He is member of the UN International Law Commission, its current Chair (2022) and was its Special Rapporteur on Peremptory Norms. He is a member of the Institut de Droit International, and two-time Fulbright grant holder. He was previously a lawyer for the South African Foreign Ministry and Legal Counsel for its Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York. He has appeared as counsel before the ICC Pre-Trial and Appeal Chambers. He subsequently served as adviser to the South African Foreign Minister from 2014-2018. He is also the author of books of fiction.