War Crimes

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The War of Aggression Against Ukraine, Cultural Property and Genocide: Why it is Imperative to Take a Close Look at Cultural Property

For too long, a great deal of energy has been invested in trying to decipher obscure statements made by Vladimir Putin (a true “masterclass of disinformation”: Åslund 2021; cf. Kappeler 2021). Now that Putin has started a war of aggression against Ukraine, it is high time that we take his denials of Ukrainian statehood and the appropriation of Ukrainian history seriously. His words have gained a whole different meaning against the backdrop of an armed aggression, in the course of which one of the first missiles hit a television tower in Kyiv just located next to the site of the Holocaust memorial Babyn Yar. The Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy underscored the highly symbolic impact of this attack on the site of one of the largest WW2 mass graves in Europe: “Such a missile strike shows that for many people in Russia, our Kyiv is completely foreign. They know nothing about our capital. About our history […] But they have an order to erase our history. Erase our country. Erase us all.” In…

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Aggression against Ukraine: Avenues for Accountability for Core Crimes

The unprovoked attack by Russia against Ukraine should be qualified as a crime against peace, or the crime of aggression, as defined in Article 6(a) of the IMT Charter and in Article 8bis of the ICC Statute. There are also allegations of war crimes as the Russian armed forces have targeted…

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UN Security Council Referrals to the ICC and the Principle of Legality

Introduction On 1 November 2021, the Appeals Chamber (AC) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) rendered an interesting judgment relating to a jurisdictional challenge brought by the Defence in the case of Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rhaman (“Ali Kushayb”). The challenge is noteworthy because it confronted the Court with novel issues of law relating to the…

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The Weakest Link of the Troika? The Immunity of Heads of Government in Customary International Law

There have been a flurry of cases in the English courts concerning foreign leaders in recent months. Permission has been granted to serve the President of Mozambique in a case involving claims challenging state guarantees of the financing for projects in Mozambique. The Fifth President of Ukraine (2014-2019) Petro Poroshenko has been found to be immune…

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The Ntaganda appeal judgment and the meaning of ‘attack’ in conduct of hostilities war crimes

One of the many interesting issues raised by the ICC’s recent Ntaganda appeal judgment, and the subject of this post, is whether war crimes referring to ‘attacks’ require a nexus to hostilities. IHL has traditionally distinguished between protecting persons from the conduct of hostilities (Hague law) and protecting persons in the power of a belligerent (Geneva…

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