The Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has suggested that his country may follow Russia in leaving the International Criminal Court. The court’s antagonism against poor and developing counties whilst ignoring the high crimes of countries like Britain, France and the US, has led many to view the court as little more than a failed forum for ultimately racist show trials.
During his speech Duterte said:
They are useless, those in the International Criminal Court. They (Russia) withdrew. I might follow. Why? Only the small ones like us are battered.
As a self-styled revolutionary leader of sorts and a fierce opponent of western global hegemony, it is unsurprising that Duterte associates himself with this narrative, a narrative that happens to be objectively correct. In the same statement, he claimed that if Russia and China form a new ‘world order’, more appropriately called a new bloc of fraternal nations (it already exists and is called the BRICS), Duterte may join.
His statement comes days after praising Donald Trump’s victory and calming that the Philippines will be prepared to continue close relations with the US under Trump.
This demonstrates that in a world where US policy is based on a business ethos and a respect for the sovereignty of states, it will not be a matter of choosing between a BRICS alliance and good relations with America.
The Philippines has a long standing post and neo-colonial relationship with the US, however, because of her geography, current political climate and economic needs, she is ultimately better suited to be a BRICS partner.
Whilst the western mainstream media are eager to portray Duterte as some sort of loose cannon, I do not doubt that he has the best interests of his people in mind and that his pivoting once deeply immovable Philippines policy toward the wider, multi-polar world will have reverberations across the region.
The only remaining question is what will happen first – the Philippines joining up with the BRICS or the ICC ceasing operations?