Russia’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) left the ICC supporting nations in plea for unification within the courts. This stemmed from the aftermath of withdrawals of South Africa, Burundi, and Gambia from the ICC. The three African nations criticized the ICC for ignoring other crises around the world and how its core principles have failed its credibility to live up to its potential toward peaceful resolution to global conflicts. The first global tribunal of its kind, the ICC was established in 2002 for the purpose for initiating investigations of international criminal activities defined by the Rome Statute, also known as the ICC Charter, which would lead into prosecutions against those responsible for such activities.
A statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry explained how Moscow’s refusal to ratify the Rome Statute is a result of the ICC’s failure to meet expectations as an independent judicial institution. As a follow up, a common complaint from the African nations is the ICC abandoning its power to hold intensified forums on African concerns. Instead, the ICC African members have addressed worry over the ICC’s biased approach for attacking the sitting heads-of-states of Kenya and Sudan without real justification for initiating such inquiries. Suggestions have been made for the ICC to focus on conflicts that places a state’s political structure in jeopardy such as Nigeria’s military opponents, Boko Haram.
Russian President, Vladimir Putin’s, signed decree of withdrawal came a day after the ICC’s report recognizing Russia’s involvement in escalating an international conflict with Ukraine. The conflict arose by having Russian troops temporarily occupy Ukrainian territory outside their consent. The Kremlin agreed on the allegations of the ICC showing biased attitudes toward certain international situations. As such, the ICC has been described by Moscow as a bureaucratic organization that strategizes its response to international conflicts based on favorable, one-sided fora. It is no secret that the disappointment expressed by Russia on ICC’s decisions was rooted in previous attempts for the ICC to open an investigation into the South Ossetia military conflict back in 2008.
The Kremlin have suggested for policy reformation in the ICC charter in order to restore any hopes to confront impunity and aggression against international security and peace. Articles 126 and 5 of the ICC charter contradict their ability to determine appropriate actions toward aggressive states. Article 5 states the ICC has a limited ability to initiate their investigations to serious crimes that threaten the international community, whereas Article 126 further limits the statute power to only investigate states that have ratified the Rome Statute.
A number of problems can arise from such limitations. For instance, any state, like Russia, that withdrawals its signature means that any international crimes defined by the statute that have been committed by non-ratified states cannot be tried. Furthermore, potential withdrawals from states are opportunities to bargain their influence on how the ICC operates while taking advantage to achieve goals outside the international collective. Thus, the ICC has the potential to be under pressure to only focus on investigations that would make states remain in the Rome Statute as seen in the court’s discharge to pursue the Kenyan and Sudanese leaders. In the case of the Philippines, President Duterte has threatened to follow Russia’s pursuit to remove its signature from the ICC statute. Any further withdrawals form the statute forces the ICC to appeal to the demands for policy reform which threatens the ICC’s principle by having to redefine any political action against international criminal activities.
Corder, Michael. “ICC supporters call for unity after withdrawals, Russia snub.” Toronto
Metro, November 16, 2016. Accessed December 3, 2016.
“Lawmaker says Russia’s refusal to ratify ICC Rome Statute arise from its biased decisions.”
TASS – Russian News Agency, November 16, 2016. Accessed December 3, 2016.
Rigwell, Henry. “International Criminal Court Fears Exodus of African States.” VOA News,
November 18, 2016. Accessed December 3, 2016.
“Russia refuses to ratify Rome Statute as ICC ‘failed to become truly independent’.” RT News
November 16, 2016. Accessed December 3, 2016.
Scheffer, David. “More Options for Africa under the Rome Statute.” Just Security, November
19, 2016. Accessed. December 3, 2016.
Yegorov, Oleg. “Russia withdraws from International Criminal Court after report on Crimea.”
Russia Beyond the Headlines, November 17, 2016. Accessed December 3, 2016.
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