Context: Armenia’s Parliament has voted to join the International Criminal Court.
Analysis of Armenia’s decision to join International Criminal Court
- Key reason behind Armenia’s decision to join the International Criminal Court is Azerbaijan’s offensive against the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
- Armenia’s decision to become a party to the International Criminal Court is expected to strain relations with Russia as International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants against President Putin of Russia for committing human rights abuses during Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
- Armenia being a state party to ICC will be under obligation to arrest Putin. Thus, this will constrain Russia-Armenia relations.
- Armenia is a landlocked country, part of the Caucasus region.
- Neighbouring countries of Armenia: Turkey on the West, Georgia on North, Azerbaijan on east, Iran and Azerbaijan’s enclave of Nakhchivan on South.
- Yerevan is the capital and largest city of Armenia.
About Nagorno-Karabakh Region
- It is a landlocked mountainous region, encircled by Azerbaijan.
- The region is majorly inhabited by ethnic Armenians.
- The region has been subject of territorial dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
- Nagorno-Karabakh region has been under the self-declared Republic of Artsakh.
- Recently, in September 2023, Azerbaijan attacked the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The attack resulted in the removal of institutions of Republic of Artsakh.
- Nagorno-Karabakh was connected to Armenia by a small corridor known as Lachin Corridor.
- More than half the population of Nagorno-Karabakh region has fled to Armenia. Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of committing ethnic cleansing in the region.
About International Criminal Court
Origin of International Criminal Court
- ICC came into being and is government by the Rome Statute. Rome Statute entered into force on 1 July 2002 after ratification by 60 countries.
- It is the first permanent, treaty-based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.
- ICC is an independent international organisation and is not part of United Nations.
- ICC has 18 judges who are elected by Assembly of State Parties and serve 9-year, non-renewable terms.
- Seat of International Criminal Court: is in The Hague in the Netherlands
Jurisdiction of International Criminal Court
- International Criminal Court investigates and tries individuals charged with the gravest crimes of concern:
- War crimes
- Crimes against humanity
- Crime of aggression
- ICC may exercise jurisdiction over international crimes only if they were committed on the territory of a State Party or by one of its nationals.
- However, ICC may exercise jurisdiction if a situation is referred to ICC Prosecutor by the UNSC or if a State makes a declaration accepting the jurisdiction of ICC.
- Under the Rome Statute, ICC can only investigate and prosecute the above four international crimes in situations where states and unable or unwilling to do so themselves. Thus, ICC acts as a court of last resort and seeks to complement, not replace, national courts.
Parties of International Criminal Court
- Currently, 123 countries are state parties to the International Criminal Court.
- However, countries such as India, China, USA, Russia etc are not a party to it.