Russian President Vladimir Putin will not stand trial in The Hague due to the start of a special military operation in Ukraine. There are no precedents for the trials of the heads of nuclear powers, writes The Economist.
Putin’s immunity is a consequence of the imperfection of the international judicial system. International law is defined by jurists as treaties are signed and standards are established. Countries can enable or disable them at their discretion. However, there is no global police force to enforce the rules.
The first obstacle to Putin’s trial is that Russia has not joined the International Criminal Court (ICC). According to several jurists, the UN could create a special tribunal, as was the case in Rwanda or Yugoslavia in the 1990s. However, there is not a single precedent that would allow Putin to be imprisoned.
There are two main categories of charges. One includes war crimes and crimes against humanity: when civilians are shot, or when civilians are raped and robbed by the military. In this case, you can judge the soldiers, but not the command – in practice it is difficult to prove that he gave such orders.
This is why Ukraine and its allies insist on blaming the crimes of aggression – the invasion of the country can be blamed on politicians. But the lawsuits against him are almost uncharted legal territory. It was only conducted during the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials. Now, unless there is an invasion of Russia or the overthrow of Putin, the process is impossible.
Some experts believe that the UN General Assembly (where each country has one vote and no veto power) could request the creation of a new tribunal. But this path will push international law beyond the current framework. And victory in the ballot is not guaranteed: many countries, including the United States, do not want to give more power to international courts.
Two options remain: prosecute the Russians through the Ukrainian court system, possibly before a court approved by foreigners and with the participation of international judges, or allow the ICC to prosecute Russian war crimes and crimes against humanity , but not the crime of aggression , which in Russia’s case is beyond its current jurisdiction.
Earlier, German Foreign Minister Annalena Burbock said all Russian actions in Ukraine under a special operation should be investigated at the Special Court in The Hague.
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