The European Union wants to create a special tribunal for war crimes in Ukraine
The European Union (EU) wants the creation of a special tribunal, which would be supported by the United Nations, to investigate and try possible war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine, the President of the European Commission announced on Wednesday. “We are ready to start working with the international community to obtain the widest possible international support for this specialized tribunal”said Ursula von der Leyen, adding to continue to support the International Criminal Court.
The creation of such a tribunal has been demanded on several occasions by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, as well as by the Baltic countries. The International Criminal Court (ICC) only has jurisdiction over war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine, not “crimes of aggression” of Russia, because Moscow is not a signatory to the Treaty of Rome establishing the Court. The ICC would not be able to try Russian President Vladimir Putin, his Prime Minister and his Foreign Minister, who enjoy immunity from prosecution during their term, the Commission notes. « A court to this Jurisdiction over crimes of aggression would allow for the prosecution of Russia’s most senior leaders who would otherwise enjoy immunity.”she continues.
The Netherlands, which already hosts the ICC in The Hague, has indicated its availability to host a special tribunal. But to set up such a court, broad international support will be necessary, recognizes the Commission. If the proposal doesn’t have a chance of passing the UN Security Council due to Russian opposition, it might have more resonance in the General Assembly.
The EU executive has also proposed a plan to confiscate Russian assets frozen in response to the invasion of Ukraine in February. “We blocked 300 billion euros of reserves of the Russian Central Bank and we froze 19 billion euros to the Russian oligarchs”, said the President of the Commission in a press release. In the short term, Brussels and its partners could manage these funds and invest them. Proceeds would go to Ukraine, a sum that could partly cover the damage suffered since the beginning of the war. “We will work on an international agreement with our partners to make this possible. And together, we can find legal ways to make it happen.”added Ursula von der Leyen.
More than 20,000 Ukrainian civilians and over 100,000 military personnel have been killed or injured since the invasion of Ukraine began in February, the EU chief executive has said. The damage suffered by Ukraine is, according to her, estimated at 600 billion euros.