On 16 November 2016, the president of the Russian Federation issued bylaw № 361-rp “On the Russian Federation’s intention not to become a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court”.
It follows from paragraph 1 of the bylaw that the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation, after consultations with a number of State organs, including the Supreme Court, the Prosecutor-General’s Office and others, suggested to:
dispatch a notification to the Secretary-General of the United Nations about the Russian Federation’s intention not to become a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which was adopted by a Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries under the auspice of the UN in the city of Rome, on 17 July 1998, and which was signed on behalf of the Russian Federation on 13 September 2000.
As Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) explained in an official statement on the same day, the most immediate effect of bylaw № 361-rp would be the withdrawal of Russia’s signature of 13 September 2000 from, and not proceeding to the ratification of, the Rome Statute in accordance with its Article 126. Officially, the MFA criticised the ICC for its alleged lack of efficiency and independence, biased attitude and high cost:
The ICC as the first permanent body of international criminal justice inspired high hopes of the international community in the fight against impunity in the context of common efforts to maintain international peace and security, to settle ongoing conflicts and to prevent new tensions.
Unfortunately the Court failed to meet the expectations to become a truly independent, authoritative international tribunal. The work of the Court is characterized in a principled way as ineffective and one-sided in different fora, including the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. It is worth noting that during the 14 years of the Court’s work it passed only four sentences having spent over a billion dollars.
In this regard the demarche of the African Union which has decided to develop measures on a coordinated withdrawal of African States from the Rome Statute is understandable. Some of these States are already conducting such procedures.