US President Biden has controversially described the mass killings of ethnic Armenians by Ottoman forces in 1915 as “a war crime”. This marks a change from previous US presidents, who have maintained that it was not clear-cut what happened.
Shocking atrocities in Ukraine, purportedly committed by Russian soldiers, have fueled demands to arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin with war crimes.
Following the departure of Russian soldiers from the region, images of at least 20 dead scattered over the street in Bucha, Ukraine, surfaced over the weekend, causing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to demand a stop to Russian “war crimes.” Russia’s alleged use of cluster bombs and so-called vacuum bombs in densely populated regions with numerous people, as well as its bombardment of hospitals and a theater where children were finding safety, have all been condemned as war crimes.
Here’s a look at war crimes and the international justice movement from a wide perspective.
What is a war crime, exactly?
The International Criminal Court has precise definitions for war crimes, which may be found in the ICC’s handbook. Russian war crimes might include targeting civilian populations, breaking the Geneva Conventions, targeting certain groups of individuals, and more.
To fulfill a burden of proof, there is a process of obtaining evidence from testimony, satellite pictures, and other sources.
What is the International Criminal Court (ICC) and what does it do?
The International Criminal Court, which is based in The Hague, Netherlands, and was established by a treaty known as the Rome Statute, which was originally presented before the United Nations, functions autonomously. The pact is signed by the majority of nations, although there are a few prominent exclusions, notably Russia and the United States. And Ukraine, for that matter.
Who can be tried in a court of law?
The court hears cases against persons rather than nations, and it concentrates on those with the greatest power: leaders and bureaucrats. Ukraine has previously acknowledged the court’s jurisdiction despite not being a member. As a result, Putin may possibly be tried by the court for ordering war crimes in Crimea in the past.
However, since the International Criminal Court does not hold trials in absentia, he would have to be given up by Russia or captured outside of Russia. That doesn’t seem probable.
How does the ICC start a case?
Cases may be referred for inquiry in one of two ways: by a national government or the United Nations Security Council.
Russia, as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, has veto power over decisions made by the body. The present inquiry was started by requests from 39 national governments, the majority of which were European.
How long does it take for these investigations to be completed?
If justice goes slowly in general, international justice moves very slowly. The International Criminal Court’s investigations take a long time. Only a few convictions have ever been obtained.
What impact would an ICC case have on the conflict?
According to Ryan Goodman, a law professor at New York University and co-editor-in-chief of Just Security, an online forum, “for better or worse, the ICC probe may impact the diplomatic space for discussions.”
Putin and other Russians, he claimed, may not want to risk being arrested if they go outside the nation.
Putin might be weakened at home as a result of the inquiry, he suggested. “Russians may recognize that this is another another reason Putin is no longer able to serve his nation.”