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Press Release: Calling for the Creation of a Special Tribunal for the Punishment of the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine

Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown Ltd

Friday 4th March 2022

BROWN: WE MUST CONVENE A SPECIAL INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNAL TO PUNISH PUTIN FOR CRIME OF AGGRESSION

Gordon Brown today joined Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in a call to nations across Europe and beyond to support the creation of a special tribunal to punish President Putin for the crime of aggression against Ukraine.

At an online event organised by the Chatham House think-tank, Mr Kuleba and the former British Prime Minister joined international lawyers to make a joint plea for western nations to set up such a tribunal to prosecute President Putin and his accomplices for the crime of aggression against Ukraine. 

The plan to set up an new international tribunal is modelled on the actions of the nations which, during World War II, met in London to draft a resolution on Nazi war crimes. This led to the creation of the International Military Tribunals and the Nuremberg trials.

Mr Brown said today a new international tribunal was needed to complement existing international investigations by the International Criminal Court and others which are not in a position to investigate crimes of aggression in Ukraine.

Mr Brown said today: "Ukraine wants our full support to expose and punish the crime of aggression and that can be done by setting up a special tribunal on the lines proposed in 1942."

"President Putin has posed a fateful challenge to the post-1945 international order. He has sought to replace the rule of law with a misuse of force. If we were to acquiesce in any way, none of us could ever take freedom or democracy for granted ever again. And for all these reasons – and because of the scale of the suffering of the people of Ukraine I believe that most people would agree that this act of aggression cannot go un-investigated, unprosecuted or unpunished."

The proposal Mr Brown is supporting has been formulated by senior international legal experts including Phillippe Sands QC, the director of the Centre on International Courts and Tribunals at University College London, Philip Leach, Professor of Human Rights Law at Middlesex University, Dapo Akande, the Professor of Public International Law at the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University, and Murray Hunt, Director of the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law.

A declaration calling for the Tribunal to be created has been published today signed by 38 leading lawyers, academics and human rights campaigners. They include Ben Ferencz, who was one of the lead prosecutors at Nuremberg, now aged 102.

The proposal seeks to address a gap in the international legal infrastructure.

The International Criminal Court does not have competence to investigate the crime of aggression against states that, like Russia, have not ratified that statute.

The lawyers are demanding that the UK and other countries join Ukraine to grant jurisdiction to a dedicated criminal tribunal to investigate both the perpetrators of the crime of aggression and those complicit in that crime.

Mr Brown said: "Currently the ICC can investigate crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes. As evidence mounts acts against innocent civilians including children and the use of vapour bombs, it may be that Russia can be prosecuted for these crimes."

"But we lack a crucial extra weapon in the legal fight against Putin. because Russia has not signed up to a separate ICC statute under which nations pledge not to commit so-called "crimes of aggression". we need the special tribunal "

"Mr Kuleba wants us to act and I believe we must do so now. Putin must not be able to escape justice."

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Speaking from Ukraine this morning Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said:

"Eighty years ago, representatives of 9 countries met in London to set up a legal framework for the prosecution of war criminals during the Second World War and we all know that led to the establishment of a precedent in international law which defined the future development of international criminal law."

"Eight years ago, Russia launched aggression against Ukraine, occupying Crimea and some parts of our territory in eastern Ukraine."

"Eight days ago, Russia – in a barbaric way – launched another wave of aggression against Ukraine. The question is now how the international community will handle it."

"The moment I learned about the initiative to set up a multinational tribunal to investigate the crime of aggression against Ukraine I immediately said yes. And this yes comes from me not only as a person but as a representative of the government of Ukraine."

"We are looking forward to working actively on it and also to engage with those countries who are willing to take part in this important undertaking. The aim of this initiative is not to replace the ICC or any other jurisdictional bodies but to fill the gap in international law and to use the experience of international law for the benefit of the people and of the world order based on international law."

"When bombs fall on your cities and when soldiers rape women in the occupied cities and we have numerous cases, it is difficult of course to speak about the efficiency of international law but this is the only tool of civilisation that is available to us to make sure that in the end eventually that all those who made this war possible will be brought to justice and the Russian federation as a country that committed an act of aggression will be held accountable for its deeds."

"We need to fill the gap on the crime of aggression and therefore I would like to support the declaration and the statement calling for the setting up of a Special Tribunal for the Punishment of the Crime of Aggression against the state of Ukraine."

"On behalf of the government of Ukraine, we are ready to move on and we are ready to work with anyone who is wiling to bring Russia to account and I call on all of you to continue the establishment of this tribunal."

ENDS



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