May 26, 2022

Prosecuting Putin for Going to War

With Ryan Goodman

Russian President Vladimir Putin bears responsibility for many international crimes committed by his forces in Ukraine. But one of these crimes preceded all the others: the crime of aggression. Aggression is the resort to war in violation of the United Nations Charter. And it is a crime that can be committed only by those with immense power.

On Wednesday, the International Court of Justice, acting with unprecedented speed, ordered Russia to suspend its military operations in Ukraine. That judgement adds great weight to the accusation that Putin’s resort to war has violated the foundations of the global legal order.

We have published a model criminal indictment charging Putin with the crime of aggression, using one of the narrowest definitions of the crime under international law. Our text, even though limited to publicly available evidence, shows clearly that Putin’s actions of initiating and executing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine satisfy what a prosecutor would need to secure an arrest warrant against him. The problem is that, as of right now, there is no international court to issue such a warrant. Continue reading here.

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