Armenia officially became the 124th State Party to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday after Ambassador Mher Margaryan deposited Armenia’s accession documents in a ceremony held at the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs, where Margaryan presented the instrument of ratification to the Director of the Treaty Section.
This ceremony is the conclusion of the accession process which began in 2022 when the government approved a law on Rome Statute ratification and a declaration, accepting the ICC’s retroactive jurisdiction before the Armenian Constitutional Court authorized the ratification.
In 2003, Armenia implemented partial legislation to give the country jurisdiction over crimes punishable by the ICC under the Rome Statute. However, Progress towards ratification of the Rome Statute has faced obstacles. In 2004, the Armenian Constitutional Court ruled that the Rome Statute conflicted with the country’s national laws. The Armenian Constitution was subsequently changed in 2005 and later in 2015.
The move comes as the country and it population are facing multiple international disputes that may implicate the Rome Statute. Last month, JURIST spoke with international lawyer Sheila Paylan and Member of the UK House of Lords Baroness Caroline Cox about the current conflict and aggression by Azerbaijan in the self-declared independent republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh), as the region lowered its flag, opting to dissolve all state institutions following a months-long blockade by Azerbaijani forces that brought about an acute humanitarian crisis among its predominantly ethnic Armenian population. Paylan responded to Armenia’s accession telling JURIST:
By ratifying the Rome Statute of the ICC, Armenia has affirmed its sovereignty, demonstrated its shared values with democratic nations, and finally gained a viable avenue to seek criminal accountability for the heinous atrocities committed by Azerbaijanis on Armenian territory.
This move will also obligate Armenia, a former Soviet republic, to arrest Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, if he were to visit the country, due to the outstanding ICC arrest warrants against Putin. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov has warned Armenia that its actions in joining as a signatory of the Rome Statute would be seen as an “extremely hostile” act.
The instrument of ratification will now be deposited with the UN Secretary-General, who serves as the custodian of the Rome Statute.