International criminal law is a fairly young area of law that still has to prove its relevance and effectiveness. Nevertheless, Russia's aggression against Ukraine once again demonstrates that effective international criminal justice can become a reliable deterrent to armed conflicts in the future.
Recently, the Armenian authorities announced that by ratifying the Rome Statute, they offered Russia to sign an agreement that would allow both countries not to apply the decisions of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to each other. Prior to that, South Africa, Brazil, and Hungary made dubious statements in this regard, expressing doubts about the possibility of arresting Vladimir Putin on their territories despite the ICC warrant. But the law should be above political interests and preferences. Law is not a field where double standards apply. It is about the "rules of the game" where everyone should be on an equal footing. If a country ratifies the Rome Statute, it must apply it, and not look for ways to avoid justice because of political or economic expediency or personal sympathies.
Why does the world need international criminal justice at all? Answers may vary, but ultimately they boil down to the fact that it ensures that those who commit the most serious crimes are brought to justice. In this way, it performs a preventive function and protects the existing world order.
And the arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin issued by the ICC should guarantee that the Russian president can be arrested in all 124 countries that are parties to the Rome Statute. After all, this is the cornerstone of the functioning of this architecture.
The development of international criminal justice was already extremely difficult. States could not reach an agreement, argued, and criticized. However, in the end, the adoption of the Rome Statute and the establishment of the International Criminal Court was a big step towards overcoming impunity for the most serious crimes in the world. Unfortunately, not all UN member states supported the process, and some permanent members of the UN Security Council remained on the sidelines. Among the opponents was and still is such a serious "player" as the United States, which certainly weakens the very idea and undermines faith in the rule of law and the desire for peace and justice in the world.
Ukraine itself, since 2014, has been hoping to punish those responsible for international crimes on its territory, relying on the international criminal justice system. At the same time, we have not yet ratified the Rome Statute. That is, we have not adopted these rules ourselves and have not made every effort to strengthen the architecture of international criminal justice.
In the modern world, unfortunately, there is still a place for international armed conflicts. It is in the interests of all mankind to create truly effective mechanisms for their prevention, and this means, first of all, the institution of inevitable responsibility for the violations committed. Perhaps the future of international criminal justice is being decided right now. And all further actions to ensure punishment for international crimes committed during during armed conflicts: between Russia and Ukraine, Hamas and Israel, in Sudan, Kenya, etc., should develop and strengthen the system of international criminal justice based on the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Otherwise, the world is doomed to walk in a circle of impunity.
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