The National Assembly of Armenia ratified the Rome Statute with 60 votes in support and 22 votes in opposition on October 3, 2023.
Armenia signed the Rome Statute on October 1, 1999, but the Constitutional Court of Armenia declared the agreement partially unconstitutional, leading to a delay in its ratification. On March 28, 2023, the Constitutional Court of Armenia published a new decision, referencing the 2004 ruling.
The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court established the ICC and was adopted in Rome, Italy on July 17, 1998, entering into force on July 1, 2002.
This statute identified four core international crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. The ICC’s jurisdiction is activated when states are “unable” or “unwilling” to prosecute these crimes themselves; it complements domestic courts.
The ICC can initiate investigations through three avenues: a member country referring a situation within its own territory, a UN Security Council referral, or the prosecutor launching an investigation proprio motu, or “on one’s own initiative.” It can investigate individuals from non-member states under specific conditions.
The ICC can prosecute individuals, not states or organizations, for the mentioned crimes committed after July 1, 2002. The ICC grants immunity only to those under 18 when the crime occurred; even heads of state have no immunity.
As of November 2019, 123 states are party to the statute. Notably, three of the five permanent UN Security Council members—Russia, China, and the USA—haven’t ratified the Rome Statute.
The USA opposes the Rome Statute and has bilateral agreements preventing the extradition of suspected American citizens to the ICC.
Russia signed but didn’t ratify the statute. In 2016, they withdrew their signature after the ICC called their actions in Crimea an “occupation.” On March 17, 2023, the ICC called for the arrest of Russian President Vladimir Putin on suspicion of unlawful deportation of children and transferring people from Ukraine to Russia.
It’s worth noting that the Russian President’s spokesperson, Peskov, characterized the ratification of the Rome Statute as “extremely hostile” toward Russia.
Azerbaijan and Turkey haven’t ratified the document and aren’t under the ICC’s jurisdiction.
Armenia’s ratification of the Rome Statute extends its application to Azerbaijan under specific circumstances. According to the statute, the ICC can investigate individuals from non-member states if alleged crimes occur within the territory of a member state.
In this context, it could be applicable to Azerbaijani military personnel committing crimes on Armenian territory, where Azerbaijani armed units are stationed. However, it wouldn’t apply to holding Ilham Aliyev and other high-ranking Azerbaijani military personnel accountable under the Rome Statute.