Episode 96 – A Special Tribunal for Ukraine with Gabija Grigaitė-Daugirdė

Lithuania’s Vice-Minister of Justice Gabija Grigaitė-Daugirdė

Ever since Russia’s full-scale invasion two years ago, discussions about the potential establishment of a Special Tribunal on the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine have been a source of massive international law commentary.

Ukraine has called for such a Tribunal and works with a Core Group of around 40 states, also known as the Friends of Accountability, to try to tease out the parameters of such a new body.

But it hasn’t been easy.

We’ve covered the variety of debates right from the beginning: Here’s the primer on how international law comes into play. And one on how The Hague is central to so much of this debate. An outline of the various roads to accountability. A year ago, the lobbying behind the scenes. And ICPA – the new center in The Hague trying to coordinate the potential evidence.

The need though for a special aggression tribunal comes down to the fact that, even though the International Criminal Court can deal with war crimes, crimes against humanity, even genocide, and can issue an arrest warrant against a Head of State, it can’t get involved over the crime of aggression in this case, even though it’s the fourth of the crimes listed in the Rome Statute. The way the aggression clauses have been worded provides cover for Russia, and indeed for most countries in the world minded to invade someone else’s territory. So there’s what the deputy minister calls an accountability gap, that a tribunal could help to fill.

But it would cause a precedent. Good, say some lawyers, bad, say some states. So even though aggression is an international crime in international law recognised as such at the United Nations, there’s no international place right now to deal with this case of aggression.

Stephanie also mentions the example of a state prosectuting on its own behalf connected with Russia/Ukraine, the MH17 case. We did a podcast a long time back about that, if you want to understand more.

Janet recently sat down with Lithuania’s Vice-Minister of Justice, Gabija Grigaitė-Daugirdė in Vilnius, because Lithuania is at the forefront of pushing this discussion forward to check in on what progress has been made towards the formation of a tribunal and to get some insights on whether there’s a chance of seeing something concrete soon.

This podcast has been produced as part of a partnership with JusticeInfo.net, an independent website in French and English covering justice initiatives in countries dealing with serious violence. It is a media outlet of Fondation Hirondelle, based in Lausanne, Switzerland