Excellent article on how international laws can be tweaked to punish Putin and other Russian decision makers.
March 16, 2022
At this early stage, there are already promising signs that the international community will pursue the full spectrum of Russian state responsibility for previous atrocity crimes as the horror in Ukraine continues to unfold. For instance, the ICC’s top prosecutor, Karim Khan, announced that he’s seeking arrest warrants against three people—including two Russian nationals—for their crimes against ethnic Georgian civilians committed during Russia’s 2008 invasion.
But this is not enough. It’s vital that Putin and other Russian decision makers are held accountable for all their abuses, and that the international community avoid a “hierarchy” of victims, where violations against Ukrainians are punished but identical violations against Syrians are not. Selective justice can discredit international law as a whole.
The ICC’s investigation was opened just a few days into Russia’s latest invasion of Ukraine. Lithuania and thirty-eight other ICC member states issued referrals in support—the largest such collective action in the court’s history—allowing the prosecutor to skip a procedural step and move straight toward starting the investigation. It’s a resounding mandate to look into crimes committed by nationals of a global power. And while neither Russia nor Ukraine are ICC member states, Ukraine lodged a declaration accepting the court’s jurisdiction with respect to crimes committed on its territory since February 20, 2014. That means Russian nationals waging war in Ukraine are fair game for prosecution.
Given the current combative mood of American lawmakers to address Putin’s crimes with legal action, some quick fixes to the US federal war crimes statute could also provide a way to hold Russian perpetrators accountable for crimes in Ukraine, Syria, and beyond.
Read the rest of the article to understand how international laws can be tweaked to punish Putin and other Russian decision makers.