Malaysiakini NEWS

Withdrawal from the Rome Statute is a step backwards

Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor
Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | The Malaysian Bar is deeply concerned about the Government’s decision, announced on 5 April 2019, that it is reneging on its pledge to accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (“Rome Statute”). The Government had signed the instrument of accession on 4 March 2019, and the Rome Statute was scheduled to enter into force for Malaysia on 1 June 2019.

In backtracking on its pledge, Malaysia has regrettably failed to honour its word, and instead chosen to remain in the minority of countries that have not signed, ratified or acceded to the Rome Statute — alongside the likes of North Korea, the People’s Republic of China, Saudi Arabia and Somalia — for reasons that are not entirely clear to the public.

The Government’s decision is the second time in a mere five months that it has made a glaring U-turn on its pledge to accede to an international human rights instrument — the first one being the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, in November 2018.

Backpedalling on such a substantial matter does not augur well for Malaysia’s credibility and reputation as a member of the international community that upholds international norms, and stands up for human rights for all.

The Government’s decisions to pull out in these two instances lend to the perception that the Government should actively engage with and educate all relevant stakeholders, as well as address their concerns regarding international engagements that could be misperceived to have a negative impact on the nation’s sovereignty.

The Malaysian Bar will persist with our longstanding advocacy for Malaysia’s accession to the Rome Statute, as well as to the remaining six core international human rights instruments and their optional protocols.


ABDUL FAREED ABDUL GAFOOR is president of the Malaysian Bar.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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