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Wikipedia has a map of the Rome Statue with signatories and ratification,

Rome Statue

My question is about the significance of these status points. What does it mean to be signatory, and ratifier and what obligations and responsibilities comes with that? What does it mean to have revoked your signature as in the case of the USA, Israel, and Russia? Does this mean that the courts no longer have jurisdiction over these countries, or that these countries will no longer participate in enforcement?

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  • An explanation of the color coding in the map would be helpful.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 22 at 1:33

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A country which ratifies the Rome Statute becomes a party to the International Criminal Court. This has a bunch of administrative consequences (paying dues, voting on treaty amendments and administrative issues, etc.) As far as the Court's actual power, it means that the country fully accepts the Court's jurisdiction. That means the ICC can try crimes that happened on the country's territory or were committed by the country's citizens. For instance, the UK is an ICC party and India is not. A Brit who commits war crimes in India can be tried (party citizen in non-party country). A Brit who commits war crimes in Britain can be tried (party citizen in party country). An Indian who commits war crimes in Britain can be tried (non-party citizen in party country). An Indian who commits war crimes in India cannot be tried without a UN Security Council referral (non-party citizen in non-party country). This does get more complicated when it comes to superpowers: US troops should be under ICC jurisdiction for actions committed in a state that's party to the Rome Statute, but that would be a fight the ICC isn't interested in picking. Few people actually think the US would invade over it, but...

Parties are also required to assist the ICC as needed, including by arresting and extraditing people indicted by the Court. Vladimir Putin's ICC warrant causes diplomatic issues if he's visiting countries that are party to the Rome Statute, because they have to take a position on whether his head-of-state immunity overrides a treaty that is specifically meant to eliminate immunity. That doesn't mean they'd arrest him, but it does mean they might not be thrilled to host him.


If a country has signed a treaty but not ratified it, they aren't party to the treaty and aren't bound by it. However, the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (whose terms here are generally considered customary international law) does require signatories to refrain from acts that would defeat the object and purpose of the treaty. This isn't a simple rule, but a signatory would probably be obligated not to threaten retaliation against the ICC for prosecuting its citizens (for example). A signatory is free from this obligation if they make it clear they no longer intend to ratify the treaty, which is why the US renounced its signature. The US, Russia, and Israel have no more obligations than India or China (who never signed), but the fact that they once signed it is an interesting historical note.

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