Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock wants to hold the Russian leadership accountable for the aggressive war in Ukraine with an international special tribunal. "We support Ukraine's desire to set up a special tribunal for Russia's aggression crimes with international support," Baerbock said in The Hague on Monday. The Foreign Minister had visited the International Criminal Court there and met her colleague Wopke Hoekstra. The tribunal should be based on Ukrainian law, said the minister.
Also check suspicion of genocide
The Greens politician spoke out in favor of examining the suspicion of genocide in view of the Russian attacks on Ukraine. "In view of this brutality, in view of the war crimes and the systematic crimes, in view of the crimes against humanity, we have to see to what extent this does not also take on forms of genocide," she said. Attacks on power grids could result in hundreds of thousands of people dying of thirst or freezing to death.
Baerbock and Hoekstra also condemned the kidnapping of thousands of children from Ukraine and called for their immediate release. The reports that children from annexed territories were being kidnapped and put up for adoption in Russia were unbearable, she said. This represents an "internationally outlawed crime". Both countries want to work together to ensure that Russia's war of aggression is prosecuted. The Greens politician had previously made it clear in a keynote speech at the Hague Academy of International Law that the Russian leadership had to be investigated.
A special tribunal must be supplemented by an international component, said the minister. For example, a location outside of Ukraine with financial support from partners and with international prosecutors and judges can underpin the impartiality and legitimacy of this court.
Baerbock proposes reform of international criminal law
At the same time, Baerbock proposed a reform of international criminal law in order to close a glaring legal gap. Accordingly, the legal basis for the International Criminal Court in The Hague should be adjusted in the medium term so that the offense of aggressive war can also be prosecuted without restriction. It should be sufficient that only the victim state of an aggression falls under the jurisdiction of the court. Now, only the UN Security Council can refer the case to the court, since neither Russia nor Ukraine are contracting parties. There should be "no special way for a country, for an aggressor," said Baerbock.
"Need a clear message to the Russian leadership"
A special tribunal is "not an ideal solution, not even for me," admitted Baerbock. "But the reason we need this special solution is that our international law currently has a loophole." In addition, one does not talk about problems in 20 years, "but about justice today". You need a "very clear message to the Russian leadership (...) and thus also to everyone else in the world that a war of aggression in this world will not go unpunished".
Putin probably initially protected from a special tribunal by immunity
Baerbock conceded that such a tribunal would not initially be able to indict the "troika" made up of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Because of their immunity, it will probably only be possible after the end of their term of office. Baerbock's move is aimed at the Russian elite. It is likely to involve up to 25 members of the Russian Security Council, starting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
Experts see disadvantages from a special court
According to legal experts, a special tribunal also has disadvantages. Such a court would have to be set up in a lengthy process, from the appointment of judges and prosecutors to the creation of a legal framework. Even a special court offers no guarantee that Putin or his leadership will actually be brought to justice. Because at the moment it seems impossible that they will ever be extradited.