17 March 2023   Leave a comment

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova. They stand accused of Crimes Against humanity, specifically for the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. The International Criminal Court in The Hague was created in 2002 and has the authority to prosecute war criminals only for “crimes committed on the territory of a state which has ratified the treaty; or by a citizen of such a state; or when the United Nations Security Council refers a case to it.” According to the New York Times:

“Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in February, Russian authorities have announced with patriotic fanfare the transfer of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia to be adopted and become citizens. On state-run television, officials offer teddy bears to new arrivals, who are portrayed as abandoned children being rescued from war.

“In fact, this mass transfer of children is a potential war crime, regardless of whether they were orphans. And while many of the children did come from orphanages and group homes, the authorities also took children whose relatives or guardians want them back, according to interviews with children and families on both sides of the border.”

Last February the Yale School of Public Health released a report that estimated that about 6,000 children had been abducted and brought into Russia where some of them have been adopted by Russian citizens. That report pointed out:

“The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed UNSC Resolution 1261 in 1999, which details six grave violations against children during armed conflict. These six grave violations are derived from accepted instruments and bedrock principles of international humanitarian law, international human rights law, and international juris prudence, including the Four Geneva
Conventions and their additional protocols, the Rome Statute, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Grave violation 5 is the abduction of children by either state or non-state actors during both interstate and intrastate warfare. The United Nations’ 2013 edition of its working paper on the legal foundation of the six grave violations explains why child abduction during armed conflict constitutes a grave violation:

“Abducting or seizing children against their will or the will of their adult guardians either temporarily or permanently and without due cause, is illegal under international law. It may constitute a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions and in some circumstances amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

The immediate effect of the arrest warrants is negligible. Russia signed the Rome Treaty establishing the ICC in 2002, but never ratified the treaty and withdrew its signature in 2016 after criticisms over its takeover of Crimea in 2014 and for its actions in the Syrian civil war. Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev issued a Twitter statement likening the arrest warrant to toilet paper. But the Court has tried two former leaders of states–Muammar Gaddaffi of Libya and Omar al-Bashir of Sudan. It is unlikely that anyone will arrest Putin anytime soon. But Putin is now constrained from traveling to any state which might have an interest in arresting him which may limit his standing in the international arena. Moreover, Russian allies may find it harder to embrace Russian policies in Ukraine as along as the warrant is outstanding.

Posted March 17, 2023 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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