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Official: 20 international prosecutors jointly investigate aggression against Ukraine in Hague

The materials developed can be used in a special tribunal for the crime of aggression against Ukraine, which will be judged by the Russian authorities. 

Official: 20 international prosecutors jointly investigate aggression against Ukraine in Hague
Photo: EPA/UPG

The establishment of a special international tribunal for the crime of aggression is the only way to bring the Russian leadership to justice. This was stated by Anton Korynevych, Ambassador-at-Large of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, during the discussion "Crime and Justice: How to bring the aggressor to justice" organised by and EFI Group.

He noted that responsibility for the crime of aggression is responsibility for the entire war as such. No other mechanism can ensure the punishment of representatives of the highest Russian leadership for planning, launching and waging an aggressive war.

"This task is aimed at closing the gap that currently exists," Korynevych said.

The last trials of the highest representatives of the political leadership of countries for the crime of aggression took place during the Nuremberg Tribunal and the Tokyo Tribunal. In 1945, the international community found legal answers on how to bring criminals to justice, and this should serve as an example for punishing the Russian authorities.

Korynevych said that the creation of a special tribunal is not easy, as it is necessary to create an institution that has not existed for almost 80 years. There are few precedents and practices, and all the current tribunals have never dealt with the crime of aggression. 

However, there are concrete results even before the creation of the special tribunal. 

"Since July 2023, the International Centre for the Prosecution of Crimes of Aggression against Ukraine (ICPA) has been operating in The Hague. This is the first international attempt, an initiative to investigate the crime of aggression after the Second World War. And today, more than 20 prosecutors and investigators from several countries, including Ukraine, the United States, Poland, and the Baltic States, meet in The Hague every month at Eurojust to work out a common framework for investigating the crime of aggression. This already gives us hope that this centre will develop materials that should not be lost and will be used in court," Korynevych said.

Special Tribunal for the crime of aggression against Ukraine

  • The crime of aggression has a unique jurisdictional regime, separate from other crimes of the Rome Statute, such as war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Countries that are not states parties to the International Criminal Court are excluded from jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute the crime of aggression, regardless of whether they are the victim or the aggressor, unless referred by the UN Security Council. Given that Russia has the right to veto Security Council decisions, such an appeal is impossible to implement, so the International Criminal Court will not have proper jurisdiction to investigate the crime of aggression. Currently, there is no judicial body with jurisdiction over the crime of aggression against Ukraine. The highest military and political leadership of Russia will not be able to be tried without this body. 
  • Work on a special tribunal that could punish Putin and others responsible for starting the war began in 2022. In January 2023, the European Parliament made a crucial decision to create a special tribunal to try the leadership of Russia and Belarus for crimes in Ukraine. 
  • The International Centre for the Investigation of the Crime of Aggression (ICPA) is the first step towards a tribunal for the Russian military and political elite. 
  • On 2 April, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that there was no practical progress in the creation of a special tribunal. The minister called the creation of a special tribunal the most difficult issue, as discussions on concepts are still ongoing. Supporters of the former believe that the tribunal should be launched now, while the latter believe that the legal possibility of prosecuting Russia's top officials, including Putin, should be agreed upon first.
  • On 3 April, 44 countries supported the call for a Special Tribunal against Russia.
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