S. Africa sticks to 'physical' BRICS summit despite warrant for Putin
The BRICS alliance seeks to challenge the dominance of US and European-led global governance structures.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday that the upcoming BRICS summit, which has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin, will be held in person, despite an arrest warrant issued against Putin by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Ramaphosa stated that discussions are underway to finalize the format of the summit, but it will be a "physical" meeting. However, it remains uncertain whether Putin will attend the summit.
Additionally, the South African President emphasized the importance of an in-person gathering, stating that they have not held a physical summit in nearly three years and that it will not be a virtual event.
"We are going to have a physical BRICS summit, all of us are committed to having a summit where we will be able to eyeball each other," he said in response to a question.
"We have not held a physical summit for... almost three years. It's not going to be virtual," he stressed.
In this context, on May 30, South Africa said it will provide foreign officials attending the BRICS summit hosted by the country in August with diplomatic immunity, according to the Foreign Ministry.
The statement referred to a warrant issued by the International Criminal Court ICC in March for the arrest of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in addition to Maria Lvova-Belova, the Presidential Commissioner for Children's Rights, for "unlawful deportation" of Ukrainian children.
South Africa’s international relations minister, Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor, said, “Immunities and privileges [will] be accorded to the participants of the BRICS Ministerial Meeting and the BRICS Summit.”
Moreover, and considering that Cape Town opposes how the ICC is operating, South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa announced in April that the ANC party had determined that the country should quit the international court, "largely" because of what is regarded as its "unfair treatment" of certain countries.
"Yes, the governing party... has taken that decision that it is prudent that South Africa should pull out of the ICC," Ramaphosa said then during a press conference co-hosted with the visiting President of Finland Sauli Niinisto.
"We would like this matter of unfair treatment to be properly discussed, but in the meantime, the governing party has decided once again that there should be a pull-out."
In a recent diplomatic effort, South African President Ramaphosa, alongside the presidents of the Republic of Congo, Egypt, Senegal, and Uganda, took part in a significant peace-brokering mission between Kiev and Moscow.
This initiative aimed to represent the voice of a continent that has experienced the adverse effects of the Ukraine war, particularly in terms of rising grain prices. The African leaders presented a comprehensive 10-point proposal, including measures for de-escalation, recognition of countries' sovereignty, ensuring unhindered grain exports through the Black Sea, and repatriating prisoners of war and children to their respective countries.
As the current chair of BRICS, a group comprising influential nations like Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa will host the 15th BRICS summit in Johannesburg's financial hub from August 22 to 24. The BRICS alliance seeks to challenge the dominance of US and European-led global governance structures.
The big picture
Since its inception, the ICC has always been biased as far as the investigation of crimes and the prosecution of individuals is concerned.
The West has orchestrated wars all across the Global South that have caused millions of children to go hungry, malnourished, displaced, and even killed, including in Yemen where the US-led blockade has caused over two million children to suffer from acute malnutrition.
Yet, these issues have never been taken into consideration at the Hague-based ICC.