In a statement on Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry (FM) said they were withdrawing their signature from the Rome Statute signed in 2000. The FM said that they were backing out of the agreement on the order of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Similar to the complaints lodged by the African nations that left, Russia has said that “The court did not live up to the hopes associated with it and did not become truly independent,” and agreed with poorer countries who say the court is “one-sided and inefficient.”
Russia had already been displeased with the court after the investigation of the 2008 Russian-Georgian conflict in South Ossetia. Russia said acts of aggression carried out by the Georgian government in Tbilisi were largely ignored and the majority of guilt was heaped unfairly on them. They were angered again by ICC accusations of war crimes concerning the use of force in the Crimean peninsula, despite the majority of the area favoring Russian governance. The announcement by Russia to leave the ICC comes a day after the court declared that Russia was essentially “occupying” Crimea, even though a majority of formerly Ukrainian citizens there voted overwhelmingly to join the Russian federation.
Now, around 5 years into the conflict in Syria, Russia again feels they are shouldering a disproportionate level of blame for the tragedies in an allied nation that asked them to help fight their war against jihadists. It should be noted that Russia has only been involved in Syria for just over a year and the US has been manipulating the “Arab spring” in every country as soon as it started.
Russia is constantly being accused of war crimes on Syria by western governments, media networks and western dominated international bodies like the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Now the ICC is joining this grouping of corporate entities, government bodies and NGOs to ‘call out Russia’ for these alleged crimes.
The US and other western nations on the other hand, have been extremely successful from stopping any charges being brought up against them – especially those sponsored by developing nations. The ICC has declined investigations into matters such as the illegality of the Iraq war and the failure to remedy the ongoing migrant crisis by European countries and the US. The ICC even decide they would not prosecute men like Tony Blair for helping to start the war in Iraq but may instead focus on individual soldiers, carrying out the orders Blair gave as Prime minister.
As far as the US is concerned, the ICC doesn’t even matter. The George W. Bush administration signed on to the Rome Statute in 2002 but even at the time told the international community it would never be ratified by US lawmakers. So far the most aggressive move by the ICC against the American empire has been the opening of a recent investigation of crimes in Afghanistan; despite Iraq being a completely illegal war and NGOs citing the growing number of US war crimes in Syria.
With all of this obvious bias, it’s no wonder poorer nations or constant scapegoats like Russia are abandoning the ICC at such a fast pace. The court may have started with altruistic intentions but continues to fail to live up to the standards it set for itself. The ICC is meant to prosecute all forms of “genocide, crimes against humanity, crimes of aggression and war crimes” but has never truly challenged the largest perpetrators. Now with Russia’s departure, there could be more “non-aligned” nations to follow.