Imperative for Justice and Global Security
March 31, 2023, marks one year since the Russian regular forces were ousted from Bucha, close to Kyiv. Upon entering the town, Ukrainian defenders discovered over 420 bodies of civilians bearing the signs of torture and scattered across the streets and households. The whole world witnessed the devastating consequences of the month-long Russian occupation. While being one of the first occupied and most impacted Ukrainian localities, Bucha became a symbol of the unprecedented Russian cruelty.
Each subsequent settlement liberated by the Armed Forces of Ukraine revealed other horrific war crimes and crimes against humanity. Among others, the estimated number of fatal victims in Irpin is 322 people, including women, children, and seniors. Around 350 persons were killed in Borodianka, over 400 gone missing or murdered in Hostomel. According to the UN, the war has already led to 8 thousand civilians assassinated, 13 thousand wounded and 15 thousand lost. 483 infants were murdered and 954 injured. Ukrainian human rights groups claim the child abductions to exceed 50 thousand or even more.
On 17 March 2023, as a result of initial investigation, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant of arrest for Putin, which means his actual isolation to all the countries that ratified the Rome Statute. However, it is still not the whole world. For instance, even Ukraine, likewise Egypt – both signed the document but have not ratified it yet.
Therefore, additional international efforts should be taken to address the issue. And they are. As all the atrocities committed in Ukraine are originated from the basic crime of aggression, it is necessary to investigate and prosecute it. Regrettably, this type of crime is not a subject to the ICC jurisdiction so far. In fact, currently there is no judicial entity to deal with it. For that reason, countries seeking to live in peace have resorted to the initiation of the Special Tribunal for the Crime of Aggression, with reference to the International Military Tribunal in Nurnberg.
The Special Tribunal shall take up the investigation and prosecution of this specific crime only and it will not cover the others being already processed by Ukraine and the ICC. The institution shall focus on the crime of aggression as the root cause of the numerous concomitant acts.
The jurisdiction of the Nurnberg Tribunal extended to crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed at the time of World War II and the sentences were passed on 24 Nazi criminals. To a certain extend, it became a prevention for many years ahead, until the present time.
As it was stated in the Judgement of the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg back in 1946, “To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
Thus, it is vital to remind everyone of the previous lessons. Failure to hold those responsible for the current aggression accountable would mean that the evil remains unpunished and may occur again.
The events which happened in Bucha a year ago and keep taking place on the occupied Ukrainian territories must be a matter of the most serious concern. If the Russian political and military leadership is not brought to justice for its crime of aggression, it could happen again elsewhere.
The Special Tribunal initiative has gained support from 30 countries worldwide, with more expected to join it further on. Recognized as a powerful instrument in ensuring international peace and accountability, the implementation of the Tribunal’s verdict would be essential for the overall security.
Moreover, a multitude of international crimes remain unpunished throughout the world, from Latin America and the United States to Asia and the Middle East. If a mechanism to hold Russians accountable proves to be effective, it could serve as a precedent for bringing justice to countries such as Israel, Palestine, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq, where numerous of cruelties continue to enjoy impunity.
So, the main question is whether we are willing to accept a world where justice holds no value, allowing criminals to keep committing their heinous acts without consequences and thus spreading evil around the Globe and ultimately emboldening other potential villains to do the same?
Imperative for Justice and Global Security