Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Justice for Ukraine?

Overnight, Russia launched more missiles against Ukraine, targeting apartment blocks and electricity facilities in an effort to terrise civilians and freeze them to death over winter. And there are more photos of Russian war crimes in occupied areas doing the rounds. So I'm glad to see some progress at the UN towards holding Russia's leadership to account for their crimes:

A draft resolution is circulating at the United Nations in New York for a Nuremberg-style tribunal to hold the Russian leadership accountable for crimes of aggression in Ukraine amid signs that US opposition to the proposal may be softening in the face of lobbying by the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.


The international criminal court has already started investigating war crimes in Ukraine, but Ukraine’s leadership argues that the ICC is hampered in that while it can try those charged with individual war crimes, it cannot prosecute the Kremlin leadership over the broader crime of aggression since Russia is not a signatory to the relevant statute.

Van Schaack, speaking in London at a Lawyers for Justice in Libya event, said the US had not taken a firm position on a special tribunal. However, she believed there was merit in holding trials in absentia of Russians accused of war crimes if it was not possible to extradite them.

The EU has already expressed support for such a tribunal, so the question here is whether its done by them or the UN. The latter obviously has more moral weight, and will be a stronger condemnation by the international community of Russia's crimes. And its in the interests of the international community to do it: non-aggression and human rights are the cornerstones of the modern international order (even if they are observed in the breach), and allowing aggression and war crimes to go unpunished will encourage them. Whereas trying aggressors and criminals protects everyone.

Whether Putin and his cronies actually end up before such a tribunal obviously depends on how the war ends (and what happens inside Russia in response). But at the least, this will make sure they can never set foot outside Russia or its tiny club of fellow tyrannies ever again. And that they'll never be able to enjoy their stolen wealth ever again.