While South Africa is set to host the BRICS summit this year, the country is now considering forfeiting its role as host due to the West's mounting pressure regarding the arrest warrant issued by the ICC for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On March 17, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin on charges of war crimes. The warrant "requires" countries that are beholden to the Rome Statute to make the arrest and South Africa is a signatory, thus putting the country under obligation to arrest the Russian leader if he sets foot on South African territory. Non-signatories like China, however, are not obligated to honor the arrest warrant.
This year's BRICS summit is currently scheduled to take place in Durban, South Africa in late August, but controversy arising over Putin's plans to travel in person to the event has cast a shadow over the upcoming summit, according to ZeroHedge.
Pressure has continued to increase surrounding the Rome Statute after the South African government initially announced that it had granted the Diplomatic Immunity and Privileges Act to the international officials set to attend the summit.
Russia has not happy about the idea of moving the summit to China to prevent South Africa from having to arrest Putin, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressing contempt at the idea. Meanwhile, South Africa's International Relations Minister, Naledi Pandor, said that the topic of Putin's potential attendance at the summit had not been discussed by the foreign ministers.
South Africa also floated the idea of hosting a virtual summit for the 5 presidents, which include leaders from China, India, Brazil, South Africa, and Russia.
Meanwhile, China has stepped in to offer South Africa assistance with security with the country's head of police promising to bolster security measures for the summit.
South African Police Minister Bheki Cele met in Beijing on Thursday with Chinese Public Security Minister Wang Xiahong who noted that China was willing to assist South Africa to "strengthen the security" at the conference.
Temporary immunity has previously been granted to other heads of state. In 2015 when Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir visited South Africa while having an ICC arrest warrant issued against him for war crimes, he was granted immunity. However, the move was challenged by South African courts.
South Africa has attempted to pass the possible relocation of the summit off as a distraction with Naledi saying, "A regional conflict has not replaced eradicating global poverty as the world's greatest global challenge."
"This is not the world we hoped for when the Cold War ended," she added.
Meanwhile, others are questioning South Africa's claim to be "neutral" regarding the war in Ukraine. U.S. officials recently accused South Africa of secret deals that included shipping South African arms to Russia. Pretoria has denied the claims.
With the summit a little over 2 months away, it is doubtful that the BRICS leaders could arrange the relocation of the event in time, regardless of how much assistance with security China is willing to provide.
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