Russia withdraws from Hague ICC over “one-sidedness” and “inefficiency”

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November 16, 2016 – Fort Russ – 

Dmitry Rodionov, Sergey Aksenov, SV Pressa – translated by J. Arnoldski – 

The emerging tendency towards greater sovereignty in the world might have fatal consequences for some international institutions. The need for the International Criminal Court in the Hague looks increasingly doubtful when great powers challenge its initiatives. On Wednesday, November 16th, Vladimir Putin issued a decree according to which Russia now refuses to be a party to the Rome Statute, the legal basis of the ICC. This was a reaction to the beginning of the Hague’s investigation on the events in Crimea in 2014.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation has explained that Russia’s decision was due to the fact that the ICC is not a truly independent organ of international justice. 

“Unfortunately, the court has not met the hopes pinned on it…In principle, the court’s work has been noted as ineffective and one-sided at different venues, including the UN General Assembly and Security Council, in cases they investigated,” the ministry’s statement reads. Russian diplomats noted that over 14 years of work, the ICC has “issued only 4 sentences, but consumed more than $1 billion.”

The author of the report on the events in Crimea was prosecutor Fatou Bensouda…According to the ICC, the events in Crimea ahead of the referendum on reunifying the peninsula with Russia bear signs of an international conflict. The ensuing conflict in Donbass was regarded as an internal conflict with some elements of an international one. However, the report’s author did not highlight the confrontations on the Kiev Maidan in a separate category and did not include any list of “crimes.” The document has a pronounced pro-Ukrainian character. The Hague prosecutor called the Crimean referendum “illegal” and the situation on the peninsula “occupation.” The fact that Russian troops were present on the peninsula according to agreements with Ukraine is ignored by the report.

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For all of next year and perhaps even longer, the ICC will gather evidence on Crimea. Hague investigations are usually dragged on for years. For example, the court’s prosecutor received permission to investigate the events in South Ossetia from 2008 only this year….

According to lawyer Ilya Novikov, the court’s negative decision on Crimea could potentially result in formal charges and ICC arrest warrants. This will enable the countries complying with the Rome Statue to arrest Russian citizens and send them to the Hague court.

Assistant professor of political theory at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Kirill Koktysh, has pointed out that the ICC’s legal position is incorrect. It was not an annexation that took place in Crimea like the Hague asserts, but a secession: first Crimea seceded from Ukraine and only then joined Russia. According to Koktysh, the ICC’s initiative resembles a PR action rather than a strict legal procedure. Such language could be exploited by European politicians for the purpose of narrowing the maneuver space for the newly elected US president. Trump’s first contact with Vladimir Putin, which could end with the US’ recognition of Crimea as Russian, has caused particular concern in Europe.

The host of the analytical program “Information War”, Dmitry Taran, explained that the ICC’s initiative is logical in the context of the impending reformatting of the world related to Donald Trump’s election.

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Taran elaborated: “In the unipolar world, a system was formed in which international courts as well as, for example, rating agencies, were instruments of one pole of power, the Anglo-Saxon world. The Hague court was recognized as part of this system, but its one-sidedness is obvious. It suffices to recall the story with Yugoslavia. People were offended over Clinton’s loss and started using all the tools they had. This is exactly why both Russia and China have already long since raised the question of creating their own courts. The ICC’s report on the events in Crimea is a knee-jerk reaction to the fact that the unipolar system is obviously nearing the end of its existence following Trump’s election.”….

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