Opinion: Ukraine wants Russia to be held accountable for war crimes. USA should help
Should the US do all it can to help hold Russia accountable for its atrocities in Ukraine? You would think that Russian bombs and soldiers are wreaking havoc in the country. However, the New York Times reported last week that Pentagon blocking U.S. attempts to turn important evidence over to the International Criminal Court or the ICC.
Why? According to the report, military leaders fear setting a precedent for cooperation with the ICC, which could lead to future indictments of US soldiers.
Given the strong support of the United States for Ukraine, it would seem that assistance in the ICC efforts is an obvious matter. That’s why much of the Biden administration and other policiesincluding even a Republican senator. Lindsey Graham from South Carolina, support this. They acknowledge that cooperating with the International Criminal Court in this case will not endanger US soldiers and that the US has strategic interests and moral obligation to help
since then illegally invaded Ukraine in Feb. 24, 2022 Russia indiscriminately bombed hospitals and residential buildings, tortured and executed soldiers and civilians, forcibly relocated Ukrainian children And annexed Ukrainian lands.
In international law, many of these crimes fall under the definition of so-called atrocities, which includes war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. War crimes cover not only the mistreatment of combatants such as prisoners of war, but also attacks on civilians. Crimes against humanity refers to widespread attacks against civilians. Such attacks can reach the threshold of genocide if they are systematized and carried out with the intent to destroy the group.
USA among them many countries who accused Russia of such crimes. About a month after the Russian invasion, US Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken announced that there was evidence that Russia had committed war crimes. President Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “war criminal” – then in April, after the discovery of massacres in Buchahe said, Russian troops are committing acts genocide and called for war crimes trial.
Adhering to stricter adherence to international law, his administration was more cautious about allegations of genocide and crimes against humanity. But in Feb. 18, Vice President Kamala Harris announced: “The United States has officially determined that Russia has committed crimes against humanity.” Those responsible, she promised, “will be held accountable.”
How to prosecute Russian criminals? First of all, you need to try them. To do this, it is necessary to collect a wide range of evidence including testimonials and digital evidence such as satellite imagery. Ukraine reported on 70 000 Russian crimes. International community, including UShelps these efforts.
There is an ongoing discussion about what type of court must use evidence. Ukrainian courts already tried by Russian soldiers. European Union agreed to establish a tribunal to review Russian aggression.
But we need a court that will have broad powers and international legitimacy. Ideally, this could be done through the establishment, with the support of the United Nations, court similar to the courts established in the aftermath of the violence in Cambodia, Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. However, since it has veto power in the UN Security Council, Russia could block such efforts.
This is where the ICC and its tensions with the US come into play.
International Criminal Court was created in 1998 specifically for such situations involving violent crimes and crimes of aggression. It is already in place and thus circumvents some of the policies of the Security Council.
No wonder Ukraine wants the ICC investigate Russian crimeswhich the court began to do shortly after the invasion. It is reported that he intends to open two war crimes cases and could even blame Putin. It can be expected that the United States will readily provide assistance.
But the wobble reported by the Pentagon is consistent with a long-term difficult relationship between the US government and the ICC. In fact, the US never joined the court, although the Clinton administration helped negotiate the Rome Statute that established it and signed the resulting treaty despite reservations about politicized prosecution. George W. Bush administration stripped off US signature while conclusion of transactions and adoption of legislation that the ICC does not prosecute US citizens amid abuses during the “war on terror”. U.S. troops have almost certainly committed atrocities, including torture And executions.
When the ICC began investigating similar possible crimes in the US Afghanistanthe Trump administration introduced sanctions to the prosecutor. Her successor, the current chief prosecutor, stopped these investigations.
Indeed, given the power and influence of the United States, it is extremely unlikely that cooperation with the ICC will somehow lead to an investigation of the actions of American soldiers for their informed crimes The United States has not yet signed the ICC, but has already provided limited support for several previous cases.
In particular, given the Biden administration’s prioritization of international human rights, Ukraine presents a situation where US strategic interests intersect with US moral interests. The Pentagon must give in. The US must do everything it can to help the Ukrainian people find justice for Russia’s horrific atrocities. This is right.
Alex Hinton is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Center for Genocide and Human Rights Studies at Rutgers University in Newark. @AlexLHinton