19 August 2017

Russia to withdraw from the ICC

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow would pull out of the International Criminal Court established to try war crimes, following a report issued by the court that described the country’s annexation of Crimea as an international military conflict.

According to a government document, Mr. Putin ordered the Foreign Ministry to inform the General Secretary of the United Nations that it was no longer a party to the Rome Statute of the ICC.

Russia signed the statute in 2000, but never ratified it. The U.S. likewise signed the statute without ratification and pulled out of the agreement under President George W. Bush.

Russian media has criticized the ICC report equating the Crimean annexation as an international military conflict. Moscow has pointed to a referendum carried out in Crimea—following the appearance of Russian soldiers on the peninsula—as proof of the validity of the annexation.

The withdrawal would also release Russia from any obligations in Syria, where the U.K. has asked for a probe of alleged war crimes carried out during Russia’s bombing campaign in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Russia’s move comes after South Africa said last month that it had initiated its withdrawal from the court to focus on continental instruments and institutions, such as the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights. Burundi has also recently said it will quit the court.

The ICC, which is based in the Netherlands, was established in 2002 to punish, in the words of the Rome Statute, “the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.”

2016.11.16 / 17:59
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