Supporters of the International Criminal Court are appealing for unity in the aftermath of three African nations announcing plans to withdraw and Russia symbolically turning its back on the court.

The departures of the African states — South Africa, Burundi and Gambia — buzzed through the corridors of the annual meeting of the court's member states that started Wednesday in The Hague. The court's chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, sought to downplay the departures in a speech.

Bensouda, who comes from Gambia, says that "to address these crimes and deliver justice to victims across the world, it is essential that States' participation in the Rome Statute is not only maintained and reinforced, but enlarged."

The Rome Statute is the treaty that established the court in 2002.