A Multinational Court for Ukraine – A Vital Step Against Russian Aggression Commentary
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 A Multinational Court for Ukraine – A Vital Step Against Russian Aggression
Edited by: JURIST Staff

As the Core Group of Nations gathers in Romania on June 28 to deliberate over a pivotal draft statute, the international community faces a defining moment. This statute, which proposes the establishment of a multinational court comprising UN member states and anchored by the Council of Europe, offers a promising avenue for addressing the crime of aggression committed by President Vladimir Putin against Ukraine. This creative and meticulously crafted statute, developed by leading practitioners in the field of atrocity accountability, is not just a viable alternative to the UN General Assembly-backed Special Tribunal for Ukraine; it is a necessary step toward upholding international law and deterring future acts of aggression.

The brutal invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces has starkly highlighted the need for a robust and effective mechanism to hold perpetrators of aggression accountable. The proposed multinational court is designed to achieve precisely that. It would ensure that Putin and his enablers face justice for their blatant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and the catastrophic consequences that have ensued. Unlike the Special Tribunal, which requires broader international consensus and the cumbersome process of UN endorsement, the multinational court leverages the existing legal frameworks and political will of a coalition of democratic nations. This approach is not only practical but also timely, addressing the urgent need for accountability in a world increasingly threatened by authoritarianism.

The creation of this court is more than a legal maneuver; it is a powerful statement by the world’s democracies. It signals an unequivocal commitment to upholding the principles of international law and human rights. By standing up to aggression and holding leaders accountable, the international community can send a clear message that the era of impunity for acts of war and aggression is over. This court will serve as a deterrent, warning potential aggressors that the world will not stand idly by while nations are invaded and populations are terrorized.

Failing to act against Putin’s aggression would be a grave error with far-reaching implications. It would embolden other authoritarian regimes, encouraging a world where might makes right and the rule of law is replaced by the rule of force. The path of inaction leads to a dark future dominated by totalitarianism, where human rights are trampled, and international stability is perpetually under threat.

The establishment of a multinational court represents a beacon of hope in these tumultuous times. It is a chance for the international community to reinforce the norms that underpin global peace and security. By creating a court that can swiftly and effectively bring perpetrators of aggression to justice, we not only address the current crisis but also lay the groundwork for a more just and stable world order.

As the Core Group of Nations meets to consider this historic statute, they must seize the opportunity to lead by example. The eyes of the world are upon them, and their decision will resonate far beyond the borders of Ukraine. By endorsing the creation of this multinational court, they can chart a course towards accountability, justice, and a renewed commitment to the principles of democracy and international law.

In this moment, doing nothing is not an option. The world’s democracies must rise to the challenge and take decisive action against aggression. The multinational court for Ukraine is a critical step in this direction, and its establishment will mark a triumph of justice over tyranny.  “Peace in our time” can only come through using the rule of law to stop an aggressor.  Let’s create the Multinational Court for Ukraine on the Crime of Aggression in 2024.

David M. Crane is the Founding Chief Prosecutor of the UN Special Court for Sierra Leone. He is also part of a high-level Working Group that has created the model for both the UNGA Special Court for Ukraine on the Crime of Aggression, as well as the Multinational Court and founder of the Global Accountability Network.

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