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Vladimir Putin will travel to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia on Wednesday on a rare overseas trip to discuss the Israel-Hamas war as Moscow seeks to reassert Russia’s role in the Middle East.

With the prospect of another ceasefire in Gaza receding, the Russian president is making only his fifth trip abroad since the international criminal court issued an arrest warrant for him in March that accused him of responsibility for the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia.

In July he skipped a summit in Pretoria over fears that the South African hosts would feel obliged to attempt his arrest. Neither the UAE nor Saudi Arabia have signed the ICC’s founding treaty, which means they would not have to arrest him.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/dec/05/putin-will-make-rare-trip-abroad-to-discuss-israel-hamas-war-with-uae-and-saudi-arabia

Did any country that's not a member of the ICC make an arrest on its behalf? After doing some research, I have not seen any precedent for this, so I am wondering if it was ever done before and if there's an incentive to do so even if the country is not a member of the ICC.

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    Actually, it might have happened when the UNSC so authorized "when the UNSC triggers the Court’s jurisdiction over a given situation, the duty to cooperate binds the relevant UN Member States, regardless of whether or not they are a State Party to the Rome Statute. For instance, when the UNSC referred the situations in Darfur (Sudan) and Libya to the ICC, it imposed an obligation on those two States to cooperate. It also urged all other States to cooperate fully with the Court" But I don't know of specific (arrest) cases. Dec 9, 2023 at 15:53
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    FWIW, I did some research on this related question, and there haven't actually been as many ICC warrants put out as you'd think, and they were heavily stilted towards Africa. It looks like there have only ever been 21 arrests, and every one was African. So from a statistical perspective, Putin (and Lvova-Belova) don't seem to have much to worry about.
    – T.E.D.
    Dec 10, 2023 at 2:10

2 Answers 2

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Kind of... not really. Sudan is not [fully] a member of the ICC because they only signed the treaty but have not ratified it. (And in fact they announced in 2008 they were withdrawing their signature too.)

OTOH

when the UNSC triggers the Court’s jurisdiction over a given situation, the duty to cooperate binds the relevant UN Member States, regardless of whether or not they are a State Party to the Rome Statute. For instance, when the UNSC referred the situations in Darfur (Sudan) and Libya to the ICC, it imposed an obligation on those two States to cooperate. It also urged all other States to cooperate fully with the Court.

And in 2021 Sudan announced the were going to turn over Bashir, so if they were to follow through, you could say they cooperated in his arrest, while not being a (formal) member.

In August [2021], Sudan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mariam al-Sadiq al-Mahdi announced that the country would hand over all suspects charged by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes committed in Darfur from 2003 to 2004.

But, Bashir is still in Sudan, two years after that "historic" announcement. I'm not sure if they handed over anyone else. (And al-Mahdi resigned her post in Nov '21.)

Likewise, I'm not sure the ICC managed to get anyone from Libya. I found this dated (2017) report saying:

The ICC has so far failed to bring any Libyans to The Hague for trial since it was initially tasked with investigating war crimes in the country.

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Though speculative, one could easily see the USA doing so.

The USA rather likes the "rules based order", but just refuses to see its own nationals subjected to it.

ICC arrests have so far mostly taken place in Africa, because

  • ICC warrants have most often issued for people from that continent
  • most people on those warrants tend to hole up in less stable, more forgiving countries.

But it is easy to see a wanted person being arrested in a Western country, if they were there. And, in the case of the USA, which is not a signatory, it will have plenty of ethical and realpolitik incentives to do just that (at least for the people on the current list).

Again, the USA does not object to the ICC per se. Only to being subjected to it as well.

United States and the International Criminal Court - Wikipedia

The U.S. announced two pledges at Kampala, and was the only non-State Party to make a pledge. The U.S. formally committed to building the legal capacity of certain countries to prosecute atrocity crimes themselves, and to assisting the ICC in its investigation and prosecution of the leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army, a rebel group originating from Uganda and led by Joseph Kony.


Note: Putin is a special case, with about 1500 "disincentives". But that's not specific to the US, or to non-signatories. I suspect most countries would find arresting him somewhat worrisome, whatever they might say otherwise for public consumption. So this answer is only oriented towards the general cases of ICC warrants.

And... - see comment - this answer also doesn't attempt to look into legal contradictions of "diplomatic immunity" vs. "ICC obligations". If it's a Putin-only Q, rather than Putin being an example, question, then I wouldn't have bothered answering - for reasons cited in the preceding paragraph.

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    The OP is specifically interested how this applies to Vladimir Putin; which add some additional complications: 1) whether one can arrest somebody covered by diplomatic immunity (guaranteed by the hosting state), and 2) whether one dares to arrest the president of Russia and risk the consequences. I think these might be too much even for the US. Dec 11, 2023 at 8:38
  • @RogerV. I don't think how Putin himself will be handled has much relationship to how general cases of ICC warrants might be handled. The OP cited Putin in a article, but I answered the more generic Did any country that's not a member of the ICC make an arrest on its behalf? paragraph. Answering wrt Putin himself would be pure speculation and can't be seriously done. Dec 11, 2023 at 20:42

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