Armenia’s parliament has ratified the Rome Statute, which the government approved and sent to the parliament in December 2022.

Media reports say opposition factions “I Have Honor” and “Hayastan” (Armenia) voted against it, with a total of 22 MPs.  The bill was reportedly approved by 60 votes from the ruling team.

Upon notice of ratification by the UN Secretary General, Armenia will become a full member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and will be able to file lawsuits against individuals who committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide on its territory.

Official Yerevan has repeatedly stated that it intended to ratify the Rome Statute in order to be able to demand accountability for crimes committed by Azerbaijani soldiers on Armenia’s sovereign territory and to prevent new crimes. However, the issue of ratification became a hotly debated topic after the ICC issued an arrest warrant for the Russian president.  This court ruling obliges countries that have ratified the statute to hand Putin over to the court if he is on their territory.

Russia has reacted extremely harshly to Armenia’s intention to ratify the document. And Armenia’s representative for international and legal affairs, Yeghishe Kirakosyan, repeatedly explained even before ratification that “there are decisions” on the issue of Putin’s arrest.  In fact, the Russian president will not be threatened with arrest on Armenian territory.

The Parliamentary Committee on State and Legal Affairs approved the draft ratification of the Rome Statute on September 28.  At that time, Yeghishe Kirakosyan explained to journalists that the Russian President may not fear a visit to Armenia after ratification.  He emphasized that “incumbent heads of state have immunity” and explained what additional “solutions” there might be:

“Our Russian colleagues have been offered solutions based on the 2nd part of the 96th article of the Rome Statute. This implies the signing of a bilateral agreement, which allows for the creation of certain guarantees for the concerns that the partner states have.”

According to Kirakosyan, Armenia provided the text to its Russian counterparts several months ago and is still waiting for their response.

However, after ratification, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated that the Kremlin considers Armenia’s decision a “wrong step” in terms of bilateral relations, and Moscow would not want Russian President Putin to ever have to cancel a visit to Armenia.

Of the post-Soviet countries, Georgia and Tajikistan have ratified the Rome Statute.  Armenia has often recalled that Russia had no problems when the document was ratified in Tajikistan.

Recall, Tajikistan signed the Rome Statute on November 30, 1998.  Tajikistan deposited its instrument of ratification of the Rome Statute on May 5, 2000.