President Vladimir Putin announced Wednesday Russia will pull out of the International Criminal Court. The body, which exists to try war crimes, had issued a report calling Russia’s annexation of Crimea an “international military conflict.” The resolution condemned Russia’s “temporary occupation of Crimea,” in addition to noting human-rights abuses, including discrimination against Crimeans.
Putin has ordered the Russian foreign ministry to inform the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that it is no longer a party to the Rome Statute of the ICC. In addition to the Crimean annexation, a withdrawal would release Russia from international obligations in Syria, where the U.K.—among others—has requested a probe of alleged Russian war crimes during its bombing campaign in Aleppo.
At the same time, South Africa has formally begun the process of exiting from the International Criminal Court, telling member states that it does not want to be responsible for arrest warrants leading to “regime change.” The withdrawal comes from criticism the South African government has taken for refusing to arrest Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir during his visit to the African Union summit in Johannesburg last year.
Bashir is wanted by the ICC for alleged war crimes against rebels and minority groups in Sudan’s tumultuous Darfur region. “The Republic of South Africa has found that its obligations with respect to the peaceful resolution of conflicts at times are incompatible with the interpretation given by the International Criminal Court,” a withdrawal document, signed by South Africa’s foreign minister, declared.
So, two countries pulling out of the ICC – very interesting!