The court in the Hague, Netherlands, comprises 124 states from around the world. The ICC is the "court of last resort" and tries four types of crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, crimes of aggression and war crimes. The court was created by the Rome Statute, a treaty first brought before the United Nations.
During the 12 months' notice period, South Africa will remain under the Rome Statute.
The country's department of justice said via Twitter that South Africa was "hindered" by certain parts of the Rome Statute, primarily the one that "compels South Africa to arrest persons who may enjoy diplomatic immunity under customary international law, who are wanted by the ICC for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, to surrender such persons to the International Criminal Court."
It said the rule forced South Africa to turn over such persons even when the country was "actively involved in promoting peace, stability and dialogue in those countries."