US backs international tribunal to prosecute Russian war crimes against Ukraine

28 March, 05:05 PM
Чоловік тримає плакат під час демонстрації на підтримку України на Трафальгарській площі у Лондоні, 9 березня 2022 року (Photo:REUTERS/Hannah McKay)

Чоловік тримає плакат під час демонстрації на підтримку України на Трафальгарській площі у Лондоні, 9 березня 2022 року (Photo:REUTERS/Hannah McKay)

The United States supports the development of a hybrid justice mechanism to prosecute Russian war crimes committed against Ukraine, the Voice of America’s Ukrainian service quoted Beth Van Schaack, US State Department ambassador-at-large for global criminal justice, as saying on March 27.

“Again now, at this critical moment in history, I am pleased to announce that the United States supports the development of an internationalized tribunal dedicated to prosecuting the crime of aggression against Ukraine,” she said at a Nuremberg Principles meeting at the Catholic University of America on March 27.

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 “Although a number of models have been under consideration, and these have been analyzed closely, we believe an international court that is rooted in Ukraine’s judicial system, but that also includes international elements, will provide the clearest path to establishing a new Tribunal and maximizing our chances of achieving meaningful accountability.”

Such a court will have significant international elements — in the form of substantive law, personnel, information sources, and structure, she said.

“It might also be located elsewhere in Europe, at least at first, to reinforce Ukraine’s desired European orientation, lend gravitas to the initiative, and enable international involvement, including through Eurojust,” she said.

This kind of model — an internationalized national court — will facilitate broader cross-regional international support and demonstrate Ukraine’s leadership in ensuring accountability for the crime of aggression. “It also builds upon the example of other successful hybrid justice mechanisms,” she added.

The establishment of the hybrid tribunal will not require a resolution by the UN General Assembly on the creation of a new independent international institution, she added.

In addition, according to Schaack, the tribunal could help attract wider international support, as there is no international consensus on the issue yet.

Earlier, the Office of the President of Ukraine spoke in favor of two other acceptable models of a special tribunals for Russian war crimes — (1) based on Ukraine’s agreement with the United Nations with the adoption of a relevant UN General Assembly resolution, and (2) based on a multilateral international agreement between civilized states.

The hybrid model contains the risks of narrowing the legal assessment of Russia’s ongoing aggression to the level of “interstate conflict,” as well as raising the issue of whether such a tribunal could overcome the “immunity” of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

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