Russia withdraws backing for International Criminal Court treaty

On Monday, the ICC angered Moscow by referring to Russia's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea as an armed conflict.

By: Reuters | Moscow | Published:November 16, 2016 10:15 pm
Russia, Russia ICC, Putin ICC, Russia criminal court, Putin criminal court, Russia international criminal court Russian President Vladimir Putin. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

President Vladimir Putin signed an executive order on Wednesday removing Russia’s signature from the International Criminal Court’s founding treaty, piling pressure on a court that is already reeling from withdrawals by some African countries. Moscow never ratified the treaty, which it signed in 2000, meaning it never became a member subject to its jurisdiction. But the symbolic move coincided with the opening day of the general assembly of member states.

On Monday, the ICC angered Moscow by referring to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea as an armed conflict. It is also examining allegations of war crimes committed by Russian and Georgian forces during a brief 2008 war.

“Unfortunately, the court has not justified the hopes attached to it and has not become a genuinely independent authoritative organ of international justice,” the Foreign Ministry said.

“It is revealing that in its 14 years of work the ICC has pronounced just four verdicts and spent over $1 billion.”
Russia is under international pressure over its campaign of air strikes in Syria, with some human rights activists and U.S. officials accusing it of bombing civilians and civilian targets. Russia has denied those allegations.

Russia’s announcement may be welcomed by African states like South Africa and Gambia, which have recently announced their withdrawals, but critics said the move was yet another example of Moscow flouting international norms. “It confirms Russia’s retreat from its international commitments,” said Human Rights Watch activist Liz Evenson. “It’s closing the door for people within Russia to this important judicial institution.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters the decision to withdraw Russia’s signature had been taken “in the national interest” and was a formality as it didn’t change anything as far as jurisdiction was concerned. Most African and European countries continue to support the court, the first permanent international war crimes tribunal. But many expect it to face increased diplomatic pressure from the United States under President-elect Donald Trump, who has promised a less internationalist foreign policy stance.

The ICC, based in The Hague, Netherlands, was founded when 120 countries adopted its founding treaty in 1998. It is seen as a successor to the Nuremburg trials after World War II and ad-hoc U.N. war crimes tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

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  1. A
    Nov 17, 2016 at 5:09 am
    Not a bad idea with plenty of killings in Syria as well better to escape justice.
    1. M
      Nov 17, 2016 at 1:16 pm
      Not a bad idea / and @ - { } . , ' ": = ( ) # ;
      1. F
        farzi kumar
        Nov 16, 2016 at 7:43 pm
        Good move russia by withdrawing from an organization which has been reduced to being agents of european union andus
        1. R
          Nov 17, 2016 at 5:18 am
          Thw UN, UNSC and Others function, a time will come very soon when all these will be dumped. The way some countries like China misuse the systems - ex NSG, TAzhar Issues t etc., it is time either the rules are changedd lt; Veto powers removed , membership expanded, any decision by majoirty voting etc., UN will soon become irrelevant. India should give veiled threats of withdrawing from UN.
          1. R
            rajan Karunakaran
            Nov 17, 2016 at 2:29 am
            Macre of more than 2 lakhs Iraqis,Afghans,Lybians,by U,S and Western Allies Also causing death of more than 1 lakh Syrians by US and; it's middle East Allies is not confirmed as war crimes.Who are war criminals?.
            1. D
              Nov 16, 2016 at 5:53 pm
              Fraud court that prosecute poor third world countries in Africa mostly and controlled by White Europeans.
              1. C
                Nov 17, 2016 at 5:52 pm
                The UN was founded for disarmament and peace. Wars and weapons have multiplied manifold under its licensing procedures as dictated by its owner, Uncle Sam. What has the ICJ done to punish the US bombing out villages, hospitals, and millions of innocent civilians, all over the world?
                1. S
                  Nov 16, 2016 at 6:06 pm
                  Very true
                  1. P
                    Nov 16, 2016 at 11:21 pm
                    The International Criminal Court(ICC) is a billion dollar;br/gt;The US and the EU has been using the ICC as an effective tool to further their political interests in the developing countries, mostly in the troubled African;br/gt;-lt;br/gt;Of late ICC is being used by the US and the EU to arm twist;br/gt;-lt;br/gt;Russia took the right decision to withdraw from this;br/gt;-lt;br/gt;Only fools without any understanding of Russia's national security and Russian history will condemn Russia's annexation of;br/gt;-lt;br/gt;Moreover, no war crimes by the US the EU and their allies like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey etc have ever been investigated by the;br/gt;That in itself is a shame and sell out because all of them have committed war crimes by tonnes.
                    1. C
                      Nov 16, 2016 at 6:16 pm
                      When the treaty is nopt ratified by the country it does not make any difference aprt from that out of al most 200 membership only 120 signed this???and how many of them ratified by their legislatures??? Give it a more acceptable draft so that 90/95% members would accept the thing. Jaihind
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