Prosecuting War Crimes is Extremely Difficult

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The UN Human Rights Council is to hold a special meeting on Ukraine. What constitutes a war crime? And how to prosecute war criminals?

  • Prosecuting war crimes can be contentious. Finger-pointing is risky when there are few nations with totally clean hands.
  • Following evidence of atrocities committed in Bucha, as well as the deaths of civilians sheltering in Mariupol steelworks, the UN Council could be a first-step in holding Putin accountable.
  • Successful prosecutions are hard won; justice may not be served for many years. The process of prosecuting high-ranking individuals in the Yugoslav wars is often cited as an example.
  • However, a recent report demonstrates that the Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office has been “extremely inefficient”. Historical revisionism of this war of the 1990s continues as a result.
  • The UN is being lobbied to investigate the Tadamon massacre in Syria. The pursuit of justice elsewhere in the world hints at how complicated it will be to link brutalities in Ukraine back to Putin.
  • Actually administering justice feels like a remote possibility at this moment in time, but the process has begun in real time. How powerful a nation is may well determine how shielded criminals are.
The Guardian
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3 articles on this topic

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