Lipavský argues for setting up of international tribunal after ICC issues Putin arrest warrant

Vladimir Putin

Last week’s decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to issue an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin for overseeing the abduction of Ukrainian children has been welcomed by leading Czech politicians. Against the backdrop of a meeting of justice ministers in London this Monday, Czechia’s Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský argued for the setting up of an international tribunal.

Mr Lipavský has long been an advocate of establishing a special international tribunal that would focus on prosecuting Russia’s crime of aggression against Ukraine. He explained why in an interview with Czech Radio on Monday.

“I think it is absolutely clear that if someone starts a war and confesses to it live on air the same day then it is necessary that they take responsibility for it.

“The crime of aggression is a crime according to the UN Charter, a document that was signed shortly after the end of World War Two wherein the international community aimed to prevent the alteration of borders through the use of force.”

 Czechia’s Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský | Photo: Michal Krumphanzl,  ČTK

Mr Lipavský is far from the only one advocating for such a move. Indeed, well over a dozen states, the Council of Europe and both the judicial and executive branches of the EU have expressed their support for the setting up of an ad hoc, UN-led, international criminal tribunal which would also have the mandate to investigate and prosecute the crime of aggression that Russia stands accused of.

A report published by the UN Human Rights Council last week suggested that discussions about the setting up of such a new tribunal should be combined with efforts to amend the current statute of the ICC, so that it would have jurisdiction precisely to prosecute aggression as well.

This Monday London is hosting justice ministers from around the world to address the scaling up of support for the ICC. Mr Lipavský said that Czechia is also sending its representative to the talks, adding that the country is an active supporter of the international organisation.

“We are already taking part in a whole array of mechanisms, either through supplying funding or specific experts in the field. We are also trying to ensure the success of Czech nominees for various functions, such as the positions of judges, so we are pursuing quite an active approach.

“I think that even the current variants and proposals suggest that this ad hoc tribunal would make use of the existing institutions that are already in place, are relatively expensive and are mostly based in The Hague.”

He added that while it is important for “lawyers find a way”, it remains necessary to extend political pressure on putting those who start wars to justice.

Authors: Thomas McEnchroe , Lukáš Matoška
run audio