President Rodrigo Duterte has announced that the Philippines will withdraw from the Rome Statute (the treaty that established the International Criminal Court) “effective immediately.”
In his statement, the president was unambiguous about his intent:
“I therefore declare and forthwith give notice, as president of the republic of the Philippines, that the Philippines is withdrawing its ratification of the Rome statute effective immediately,” he said .
President Duterte’s announcement comes barely a month after the ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced that her office will be opening a preliminary examination into the situation in the Republic of Philippines where an estimated 8,000 people have been killed in a state-sanctioned drug war.
Should Duterte follow through with his desire to pull out of the ICC, the Philippines will become only the second nation to do so. Burundi – a small state in Central Africa – was the first to do so. Burundi’s withdrawal took effect on 27 October 2017, one year after it had lodged its decision with the United Nations. And, like the Philippines, Bujumbura’s move was precipitated by the ICC’s authorisation of a prelimanary investigation in 2016.
But Manlia should take note that the ICC has insisted that the Burundi withdrawl “does not affect the juridicstion of the court” during the whole time it was a state party. And, ICC judges went on to authorise a full investigation into disappearances and killings that the National Police are alleged to have been involved in.
South Africa, the Gambia, Zambia, Kenya and Uganda have also all previously signalled an intention to leave the ICC but have failed to do thus far. The Gambia, under former strongman Yahya Jammeh, came the closest to withdrawing from the ICC before current President Adama Barrow reversed the decision soon after taking power.
So here’s the handy guide we have for all presidents (and you) to help understand the process through which a country can withdraw from the Rome Statute. The step-by-step guide is drawn from Article 127 of the Rome Statute which provides for how a state party to the Rome Statute may withdraw:
1. “A State Party may, by written notification addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, withdraw from this Statute. The withdrawal shall take effect one year after the date of receipt of the notification, unless the notification specifies a later date.
2. “A State shall not be discharged, by reason of its withdrawal, from the obligations arising from this Statute while it was a Party to the Statute, including any financial obligations which may have accrued. Its withdrawal shall not affect any cooperation with the Court in connection with criminal investigations and proceedings in relation to which the withdrawing State had a duty to cooperate and which were commenced prior to the date on which the withdrawal became effective, nor shall it prejudice in any way the continued consideration of any matter which was already under consideration by the Court prior to the date on which the withdrawal became effective.”
If you want to know more, follow us on twitter, where we’ll reflect the debate about the effect of Philippines’ withdrawl and the strength of the ICC as an institution.