Russia’s permanent representative to the UN, Vasili Nebenzia, has criticized the lack of action by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the case of the Iraq crisis, noting that it could have held the culprits accountable but did not do so. In particular, the Russian diplomat referred to the arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin issued by the ICC and backed by the United States. President Joe Biden called the ICC’s decision “justified.” Nebenzia denounced the ICC as “a puppet in the hands of the collective West that is always ready to exercise pseudo-justice for hire.” Russia’s ambassador to Washington, Anatoli Antonov, said the US position on the ICC order was “schizophrenic.”
The United States and Russia are not parties to the Rome Statute, which forms the basis of the ICC, meaning they do not recognize the court’s decisions. The ICC could not prosecute the US military in connection with the invasion of Iraq, except in cases involving crimes committed on the territory of signatory countries. The ICC launched an investigation against the British military for its role in the invasion of Iraq, given that the country signed the Rome Statute, but decided to close its investigation until it was reopened in 2014 and 2020, despite the fact that there was a “reasonable basis” to believe that members of the British Armed Forces committed war crimes such as intentional murder, rape, torture, and others.
Relations between the US and the ICC have been strained since the ICC was created under the Rome Statute in 1998, and the US voted against the document and did not ratify it. Former President George W. Bush adopted a law authorizing the use of “all necessary and appropriate means to secure the release” of a military or official detained at the request of the Hague court. In 2017, the court began considering charges against US soldiers, but the US government responded by imposing sanctions on ICC judges.
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