International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Ukraine Calls for Further Engagement by the ICC

Earlier this year, Ukraine asked the International Criminal Court to look into the crimes on its territory from November 21, 2013, to February 22, 2014. This time period, leading up to the annexation of Crimea, was characterized by what the Ukraine considers to be a multitude of crimes against humanity.

In an interview earlier this Ukraine's Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin speaks during an interview with Reuters in Brusselsmonth, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin referenced a recent meeting with ICC officials in which Ukraine asked for an official referral by the ICC to investigate the crimes committed by Russian-backed troops during this time. There has not been any news regarding whether or not the ICC will pursue the investigation, but Prosecutor Bensouda did accept the Ukraine’s request last April, and opened a preliminary investigation into the conflict to determine whether an official investigation should be opened under the criteria of the Court’s Rome Statute.

Minister Klimkin specifically referenced the January attack in Mariupol in which thirty civilians were killed and another hundred were injured by a shelling. “If you have a military hostility it’s one situation, [but] if you deliberately, and I have to stress deliberately, shell on cities, killing civilians is a completely different situation and we have to engage with the ICC in working on these cases.” He also referenced the possibility of bringing the case to the International Court of Justice at the same time, as he sees the two as complementary processes.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out, especially if the ICC accepts the case and Ukraine also brings the issue to the ICJ. Given Russia’s status within the international community, the conflict in Ukraine hasn’t received a lot of judiciary attention.

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One response to “Ukraine Calls for Further Engagement by the ICC

  1. tlunn April 27, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    While it would be good for the ICC to intervene in a non-African scenario for the first time, the Ukrainian case is incredibly volatile. As a state referral, it is clearly totally a political move and – if taken on by the ICC – would exemplify a sense of victor’s justice (the victor being that whose side that the ICC is going to more or less completely does, as it has time and time again). Similarly to the case in Uganda, it might fortify the other side. This is especially possible seeing the clear Russian support and involvement in the other side. Even if the ICC were to charge members of both sides, Russia would not accept the decision to do so and it would likely be rather futile. Furthermore, as the ICC is often seen as a western body, it would likely worsen the overall ill-will between Russia and the West. The Ukrainian minister seems likely to just rally support from his people and from Western countries. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) comment seems particularly inflammatory, as he hopefully would know that both parties (Ukraine and Russia) would have to agree to a proceeding to begin, unless a provision has been signed already (unlikely), and that the only result would be a declaratory statement. That statement would rile up both the “winner” and the “loser,” as the ICJ’s intent is really not for cases that are this grave and topical. This case, should the ICC decide to investigate, would really highlight its weaknesses and undermine its credibility as an institution.

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