The ICC as an unwanted intruder

There was a time in International Law when the obligations of a State under a treaty emanated from the consent of the State to be a part of the treaty.

From that premise, it logically follows that a State which is not a signatory to a treaty, or one which was once a signatory but has already withdrawn from the treaty, cannot be obligated anymore under the said treaty.

Under International Law, every State, pursuant to its sovereignty, is free to enter into a treaty if it wants to. In the same light, no State can be compelled to remain a party to a treaty it no longer wants to be a part of. The only limitation is that the withdrawal of the State is in accord with the procedure outlined in the treaty itself.

Anything outside of that is an affront to a State’s sovereignty.

Negotiations on the Rome Statute, the international covenant that serves as the charter of the International Criminal Court, concluded in July 2002. In 2011, the Philippines became a signatory to the Rome Statute.

The ICC charter categorically provides that the ICC may investigate an individual charged with genocide, war crimes, aggression, and crimes against humanity, provided that the individual concerned is a national of a State that is a party to the charter.

More specifically, the ICC was envisioned as a court of last resort, one intended to complement, not replace, state courts.

Likewise, under its charter, the ICC is supposed to complement the existing judicial systems of States which are signatories to its charter. Thus, the ICC may exercise its jurisdiction only when state courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute criminals.

In sum, the ICC has no universal territorial jurisdiction, and it may investigate and prosecute only crimes specified in its charter and allegedly committed inside the territories of States that are signatories to the treaty, or crimes committed by nationals of those States, where warranted.

Therefore, the ICC cannot investigate, much less prosecute, crimes specified in its charter allegedly committed in a State where the courts of the said State are open and functioning, and are willing and able to prosecute its own criminals.

Although the ICC was envisioned as an international criminal court of last resort, it mutated into a global bully instead. Its top officials conveniently avoid harassing rich and powerful countries, and focus their attention instead on underdeveloped nations which happen to be signatories to the Rome Statute, but don’t have enough international clout to oppose the ICC’s troublemaking.

Apparently, ICC officials bully helpless States to give the international community the false impression that ICC officials are needed and that they are actually working. That way, those ICC officials justify the enormous salaries, allowances, and perks they get from their cash cow, the ICC.

Almost all top ICC officials are nationals of poor, underdeveloped nations in Africa and Asia who would have lived marginalized lives in their own countries had it not been for their lucky employment in the ICC. They fear that once the ICC is exposed as a useless, expensive international agency, they will be joining unemployment lines in their own countries.

The Philippines effectively withdrew its inclusion in the Rome Statute in March 2019, in accordance with the procedure stated in the treaty. That withdrawal notwithstanding, ICC officials insist on investigating perceived “crimes” committed during the relentless anti-narcotics war pursued by the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla is right in rejecting overtures from the ICC for it to conduct investigations in Philippine territory. As Remulla pointed out, Philippine courts are open and functioning, and the criminal justice system in the country is working. Indeed, there is no need for the ICC to meddle in the justice system of the Philippines.

The ICC is not welcome in the Philippines. This thick-faced intruder should take its unwanted presence elsewhere.

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