GIWPS Endorses Call to Create International Tribunal on the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine


WASHINGTON, DC — February 21, 2023 — the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS) endorses calls to establish an international tribunal to prosecute the crime of aggression in Ukraine.

As written in a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken: “a UN General Assembly Resolution could authorize the UN Secretary-General to negotiate an appropriate treaty between the UN and Ukraine establishing such a tribunal.”

“This will not only fill a critical gap in efforts to hold war criminals from Russia and Belarus accountable for the crime of aggression, it will also shore up international commitments to the norms at the center of a rules-based international order. The establishment of a tribunal would be a strategic investment in future peace and stability, both internationally and in Ukraine.”

Ambassdor Melanne, Verveer, executive director of GIWPS, joined 50 American leaders in calling for a special tribunal.

“There is no current mechanism for holding Russian and Belarusian leaders accountable for the crime of aggression against Ukraine. Aggression is a leadership crime, focused on those who design policies of aggressive war and command forces responsible for conducting it. Ukrainian law, like U.S. law, provides personal immunity for heads of state, thus barring action against Russian leadership through Ukrainian courts. The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is precluded from investigating the crime of aggression due to Russia’s status as a non-party state to the Rome Statute. As a result, no venue – domestic or international – currently exists to prosecute Russian leaders for the crime of aggression. The creation of a specialized international tribunal to prosecute the crime of aggression against Ukraine would right this wrong.”

“While the proposed establishment of an international center for the investigation of the crime of aggression against Ukraine is a useful step to ensure that evidence is gathered and maintained securely in addition to the multinational efforts already under way, there remains the critical need to establish a special international tribunal focused exclusively on the crime of aggression against Ukraine – one that can actually prosecute based upon the collection of such evidence.”

“We believe that the movement to create this tribunal will increase pressure on the senior leadership – especially those around Putin who could see the war’s continuation as only increasing their legal exposure leading them to be brought to account – to seek an end to the conflict.”

“U.S. leadership has been critical to the success of accountability efforts for Ukraine to date, facilitating the rapid speed with which Ukrainian and European investigations have been launched. To truly hold Russia accountable for its most egregious crimes in Ukraine, however, the United States must now take steps to support filling the remaining accountability gap, working with partners and allies to establish a special tribunal on the crime of aggression inflicted upon the sovereign country of Ukraine.”

Read the full letter

Media Contact for Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security
Sarah Rutherford
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