On Friday, the small East African nation of Burundi became the first country to ever leave the International Criminal Court (Icc). Their decision to leave comes about one month after the United Nations (UN) issued a scornful report calling for a criminal investigation into the country for possible crimes against humanity.

Burundi's move to leave a year in the making

Last October, Burundi announced its intentions to withdraw from the ICC when the court was extremely unpopular with certain African leaders. At that time, Gambia and South Africa were making threats to do the same. According to The New York Times, Africa's top intelligence officials also signed a statement then saying that the ICC had been “hijacked by powerful western countries” and was“acting as a proxy” for foreign-led government change.

However, Gambia backed down from there threat in January after long-time president Yahya Jammeh lost in elections. South Africa pulled back its move to leave after a High Court ruling in March that such a move would have to go through Parliament. This has left Burundi by itself in making the unprecedented move.

According to the Guardian, Burundi's government called yesterday's move a “historical” day and urged citizens to demonstrate across the county on Saturday in celebration. Presidential office spokesman Willy Nyamitwe said that: “This is a great victory for Burundi because it has defended its sovereignty and national pride.”

Burundi and the UN's report

Last month, the United Nations Commission for Inquiry on Burundi said that it had found evidence of a number of offenses since current President Pierre Nkurunziza won a controversial third term back in July 2015, two months after an attempted coup had taken place against him.

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These offenses include arbitrary arrests and detentions, disappearances, extrajudicial killings, torture and sexual violence. The ICC's work on the charges against the country is currently in its exploratory stages.

The ICC and Africa

In the ICC's history, all of their trials have involved African defendants and nine of the 10 current formal investigations led by the office of the court's prosecutor concern the continent. This comes off of the ICC reputation among African leaders taking a major hit. They dropped charges against Kenya's deputy president last year and withdrew charges against Kenya's president in 2015 after accusing both of crimes against humanity.