Shortly after three African States (Burundi, Gambia, and the Republic of South Africa) announced their intention to leave the International Criminal Court (each citing their own specific reasons), on November 16, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement announcing its intention not to ratify the Rome Statute stating that
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 Russian President issued a Decree on the intention not to become party to the Rome Statue, becoming a fourth state to openly point out its disappointment with the institution.
On the same day,the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, in a press release called on the international community to not give up on the Court and to “stand by the Rome Statute and the Court.” He emphasized the need to stand with this institution and continue to support it.
To make matters worse, just one day after the Russian announcement, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, speaking from his home, also threatened to withdraw from the International Criminal Court by stating
They [Russians] may have thought the International Criminal Court is [useless], so they withdrew their membership … I might follow. Why? Because these shameless bullies only picked on small countries like us.
Some speculated that Duterte’s statement was nothing more than just a well-timed response to Prosecutor Bensouda’s statement on the situation in the Philippines, in which Bensouda made it very clear that anyone engaging in any form of acts of mass violence could potentially be prosecuted by the Court.
Whether in response to OTP’s statement or just in light of the exodus of State Parties from the ICC, Philippines is the fifth state, in a span of less than a month, to publicly disavow its loyalties to and faith in the Court and its effectiveness. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the international community and the Court itself tackles these, hopefully, temporary setbacks.