Crime of aggression investigation office opens in The Hague
An international office charged with investigating Russia’s invasion of Ukraine opens Monday in The Hague, a move that is seen as a first step towards the possible creation of a tribunal to try Russian leaders.
This International Center for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine (ICPA) brings together prosecutors from Kiev, the European Union (EU), the United States and the International Criminal Court (ICC).
This form of prosecution has the task of investigating and collecting evidence. It is envisaged as a first step before the establishment of a special tribunal to try the most senior Russian officials for the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, a request from kyiv.
Calls for the creation of a special court dedicated to the war in Ukraine have multiplied, as the ICC only has jurisdiction to try war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine.
The court, which also sits in The Hague, issued an arrest warrant in March against Russian President Vladimir Putin for the alleged deportation of Ukrainian children.
kyiv has been pushing for the creation of a special court since the discovery of hundreds of corpses after the withdrawal in April 2022 of Russian troops from the town of Boutcha, near the Ukrainian capital.
International support continued to grow, and in February the European Commission announced the creation of the ICPA. Brussels said the center was meant to “ultimate objective of prosecuting those responsible for the invasion” from Ukraine. The participation of the United States has added weight to the request for the creation of a special court even if Washington still refuses to become a member of the ICC.
During a visit to The Hague in June, US Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special prosecutor for the crime of aggression, Jessica Kim, as his representative to the ICPA.
The complex question of the functioning of such a tribunal remains unresolved. Ukraine is in favor of obtaining a resolution from the UN General Assembly. But some of Kiev’s Western backers fear the initiative lacks international backing and are instead advocating for a hybrid court made up of judges from Ukraine and other nationalities.