In a significant move, Armenia’s Parliament has voted to become a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC), marking a pivotal moment in international relations.
This topic of “Armenia in ICC” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.
Strained Relations with Russia
Armenia’s decision to join the ICC comes amid already strained relations with Russia. The ICC has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin in connection with events in Ukraine, particularly related to war crimes concerning child deportation. The implications of Armenia’s ICC membership are noteworthy, as ICC member countries are obligated to arrest individuals with ICC arrest warrants if they set foot on their soil, including President Putin.
This move by Armenia is primarily triggered by Azerbaijan’s recent aggression and territorial disputes in the region. The relations between Armenia and Russia have also faced challenges in recent years due to several complex factors.
The 2020 Moscow-Brokered Deal
In 2020, a Moscow-brokered deal brought an end to a six-week war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Under this agreement, Armenia ceded territories, particularly in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, to Azerbaijan. Russia played a crucial role by sending peacekeepers to the region. However, tensions flared as Armenia accused Russian peacekeeping troops of failing to prevent further hostilities, resulting in Azerbaijan taking full control of the region.
Accusations and Geopolitical Shifts
The rift deepened as the Kremlin accused Armenia of acknowledging Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh, a move seen as distancing itself from Moscow. Armenia’s hosting of U.S. troops for military drills and the potential consideration of exiting the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (a Moscow-led alliance) further fueled these accusations. Other factors adding complexity to the relationship include Armenia hosting a Russian military base and Russian border guards patrolling the Armenia-Turkey frontier.
Over Two Decades in the Making
Armenia’s journey towards joining the ICC began over two decades ago. In 2004, a Constitutional Court ruling cited a contradiction between the Rome Statute (the treaty establishing the ICC) and Armenia’s constitution at the time, temporarily halting the process.
Since that time, constitutional amendments have taken place, culminating in a recent ruling in March. The Constitutional Court confirmed the alignment between the Rome Statute and Armenia’s current constitution, effectively reviving the ICC accession process.