Analysis: Unrecognized ICC Issues Arrest Warrant Against Russian President Vladimir Putin

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued a warrant of arrest for Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

The Hague based court accuses Putin of war crimes in the Ukraine – Russia war.

Though specific charges include, unlawful deportation of children to Russia, the hague court doesn’t have jurisdiction over the Russian Federation.

Russia formally withdrew from the Rome Statute in 2016. This is after the ICC published reports classifying the Russian annexation of Crimea as an occupation.

Established in 1998 by a conference of 160 states, the ICC has been accused of targeting developing countries, especially in Africa.

The US initially signed the Rome statute under the Clinton administration but later withdrew, under the leadership of George W Bush.

George W. Bush’s escapades in Iraq and Afghanistan are tantamount to war crimes and have been criticized thus.
In 2011, the former US president cancelled a trip to Switzerland for fear of arrest by civilians who vowed to hand him over to The Hague.

A human rights group based in Geneva had lodged complaints in a local court and was planning to submit a 2500-paged document against George W. Bush for the mistreatment of suspected militants at Guantanamo Bay.


The court has successfully tried cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Liberia; and made arrests.

Former Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda was handed a 30 year sentence for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The ICC found Ntaganda guilty of a series of gruesome massacres of villagers carried out by his fighters.

The court has also issued warrants against other Congolese rebel leaders such as Sylvestre Mudacumura in 2012, but Rwanda and DRC intelligence confirmed that he was killed in 2019.

In other jurisdictions such as Sudan and Uganda, the court has failed to make arrests.

In Sudan, the ICC sought to arrest deposed dictator Omar Bashir but failed after various attempts, one being when he visited Kenyan soil for inauguration celebrations.

Uganda warlord Joseph Kony has a bounty of USD5 million on his head.

Another Ugandan rebel leader, Dominic Ongwen was not so lucky, he was arrested and handed over to the ICC.

He was found guilty of 61 crimes comprising crimes against humanity and war crimes, committed in Northern Uganda between 1 July 2002 and 31 December 2005, and sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment.

Both Ongwen and Kony were members of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) fighting in Northern Uganda.

LRA is notorious for using child soldiers.

Another notorious leader that used children in his wars, Former Liberia leader Charles Taylor was also arrested in Nigeria and handed over to the ICC.

Taylor was convicted of aiding and abetting crimes against humanity, war crimes and other grave violations of international law committed by rebel forces in Sierra Leone.

At his trial in The Hague he faced an 11-count indictment, including the enlistment, recruitment and use of children under the age of 15.

Taylor was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

Rejections and further withdrawals

Even with the successful conviction of former rebels and warlords, other African countries have rejected the ICC and followed suit to withdraw from the agreement.

In 2016, South Africa, Burundi and The Gambia withdrew from the Rome Statute.

Sudan and Israel withdrew their signatures in the past, while other nations – including China and India – rejected membership outright.

Kenya once mooted the plans before the case of rape, murder and displacement were thrown out and paused for Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, respectively.


In 2013, Kenyan members of the National Assembly (MNA or MP) voted to pull out of the ICC. The move was supported by the African Union.

“I am setting the stage to redeem the image of the republic of Kenya. Let us protect our citizens. Let us defend the sovereignty of the nation of Kenya,” then National Assembly Majority leader and current Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale said.

Victims of the 2007/2008 post-electoral violence protested, “The messages it’s sending is that impunity is being continued: ‘We are ready to do evil and human rights violations and no one is going to keep us in check.’ The victims of violence in 2007-08 are the losers.”

At its inception in 1998, Libya, Qatar, and Yemen voted against the Rome Statute.

The US has always been seen as using the court to further its agenda.

In the raging debate for the creation of a multipolar world, neither Ukraine or Russia are parties to it, nor recognize it.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova called it “null and void” with no “recipe” cooked up for arrest holding any legal authority.

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev also responded to the ICC news stating, “The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant against Vladimir Putin. No need to explain WHERE this paper should be used”

Medvedev is the current Deputy Chair of the Security Council of the Russian Federation.

He ruled Russia as president between 2008 and 2012.

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