Vladimir Putin, President of Russia signed an order on 16 November 2016 withdrawing Russia’s signature from the International Criminal Court treaty (ICC).
Russia signed Rome statute, the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court in 2000 but its capital Moscow never made it officially valid, which means Russia was never its member and could not be subjected to its jurisdiction.
This move came on the opening day of the general assembly of member states.
Key Reasons behind the move
• On 14 November 2016, ICC passed a ruling calling Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 an international armed conflict. This action angered Moscow, as it claims Crimea joined Russia after a popular vote.
• Russia is facing a lot of criticism for its air strikes in Syria in support of current Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
• The court is also looking into allegations of war crimes committed by forces of Russia and Georgia during their conflict in 2008.
• Russia does not see ICC as a genuine independent authoritative organ of international justice.
• Russia claims that in 14 years, the ICC has just given four verdicts and spent nearly 1 billion US Dollars.
• The Court, headquartered in Hague Netherlands, was founded in 1998. It began functioning on 1 July 2002, when its establishing treaty Rome Statute, signed by 120 countries, entered into force.
• It is an International tribunal that has power to take legal action against individuals who commit genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
• Though it is independent from the United Nations, the Rome Statute treaty gives certain powers to the United Nations Security Council that limits its functional independence.
• It is supposed to work together with the existing national judicial systems.
• It can take up the cases that the national courts are unwilling or unable to take or cases that are referred to it by individual states or the United Nations Security Council.
Russia is not the first country to withdraw from the treaty, South Africa, Gambia and Burundi also withdrew their memberships earlier this year.
Though under Clinton’s rule, the United States of America had signed the Rome Statute, it withdrew completely under the administration of George W Bush. India and China were among the few nations who outrightly rejected the chance of joining the tribunal.