UN chief says quitting ICC sends wrong message

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says that the three African nations that have expressed interest in quitting the International Criminal Court could send the wrong message about their commitment to justice.

Ban said Friday that he understands concerns about the court, including that it has only convicted Africans despite crimes in other parts of the world. But he said those challenges are best addressed by strengthening the court from within.

South Africa and Burundi have already sent Ban official letters communicating their desire to leave the court. Gambia has said it plans to quit the court but the U.N. has not yet received an official letter, Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

Countries are allowed to leave the court one year after formally informing the U.N. of their intention.