International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Ukrainian President calls for international justice for Crimea

This time last year, a political revolution in the Ukraine led to the Russian annexation of the Crimean peninsula. Today, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko uses this anniversary to reassure his people that Ukraine is dedicated to regaining control of Crimea and protecting “the rights and interests of … all the inhabitants of the peninsula, regardless of their ethnic, language and religious background.’

To achieve this goal, President Poroshenko brings forth accusations against Russia of repressing the rights of Crimeans throughout its annexation, and is calling for Vladimir Putin and all Russian officials responsible for the invasion and occupation of the peninsula to stand trial in both international and Ukrainian courts.

While both countries attempt to pullback heavy weapons from the front lines, Pro-Russian rebels within Ukraine continue to delay peace efforts through artillery strikes against Ukrainian forces. Russia denies supporting the rebel forces, however, the Western Powers and NATO have satellite images that show otherwise.

In order to deter even more serious crimes, the Coalition for the ICC’s Campaign for Global Justice has recently urged Ukraine to become a full member of the ICC through ratification of the Rome Statute. The Coalition’s letter to President Poroshenko reads, “Ukraine’s membership in the ICC would send a clear signal that war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide will not be tolerated.”

As this issue continues to develop it will be interesting to see how involved the ICC will become. If the international court is allowed jurisdiction through Ukraine’s ratification, what charges will be brought forth against Russia? The jurisdictional debate over the crime of aggression will be a focal point in this case, and if the satellite images are proven to be real, similar charges to Charles Taylor’s “aiding and abetting” the rebel forces in Sierra Leone could be on the table. It seems to me that joining the ICC is definitely in Ukraine’s best interest if Poroshenko truly wishes to see Russia held accountable for its actions. We will have to wait and see what the Ukrainian leadership decides to do.

Articles here and here.

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One response to “Ukrainian President calls for international justice for Crimea

  1. ckeefe2016 February 26, 2015 at 10:05 pm

    Following the invasion and annexation of Crimea by Russia in March 2014, Ukraine has been fighting to regain territory lost and has been searching for solutions. With the conflict now in a stage where pro-Russian separatists are battling for freedom in Eastern Ukraine, President Poroshenko has limited options as his soldiers continue to engage in military action. Given that two attempts at a ceasefire ended in failure, as well as adamant denial from President Putin when accused of providing support to pro-separatist rebels in Ukraine, President Poroshenko may now turn to the ICC for help. Advocating Ukraine to join the ICC by ratifying the Rome Statute, the Coalition for the ICC’s Campaign for Global Justice stated that Ukrainian membership would show Ukraine’s no tolerance attitude towards human rights crimes. Ultimately, with ratification Ukraine can refer the situation to the ICC, resulting in an investigation into possible war crimes or crimes against humanity against Russia.

    As mentioned above, it will be very interesting to see whether or not Ukraine ratifies the Rome Statute and the ICC becomes involved in the conflict. While I fear that, in terms of successfully ending the investigation with prosecution, the ICC will ultimately fail if it becomes involved due to an attitude of unwillingness to cooperate from Putin and those he supports. That being said, I think it would drastically help the situation if the ICC successfully completed an investigation and formed accusations supported by concrete evidence against any perpetrators, as there would no longer be the use of a denial strategy concerning some facts. If Putin were deemed to be one of these perpetrators, it would also be extremely interesting to see charges against him given that he is the head of state for one of the p5 in the UN Security Council. In this circumstance, would the ICC’s relationship with the Security Council change? In the long run, I think that Ukraine’s acceptance to join the ICC could result in positive effects for both parties, as Ukraine could have more international support with ICC help and the ICC can establish itself as an institution willing to accuse any perpetrators, including those from the P5 states.

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